During the past three weeks, 222 Routt County high school seniors have graduated. They deserve to be congratulated.
Amid the celebrations, many graduates -- and their friends and family -- will see the culmination of 12 years of schooling as an ending. It can be a sad time, and for understandable reasons. Lifelong friends will head in opposite directions. Mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters will bid farewell to those heading off to colleges, jobs and the great unknown.
But graduation is a beginning. It's the beginning of new adventures, new friends and new careers. The future is still well ahead of our graduates, and we urge them to seize it.
With that in mind, we offer the following thoughts:
-- For those who will go on to pursue higher educations, have fun but stay focused on your goals. College is a once-in-a-lifetime experience of friends, dating, road trips, parties and, yes, exciting educational opportunities. But never lose sight of why you're there -- and what it's costing. There will be no parents, teachers or guidance counselors to nag you about attendance, study habits and grades. The choices you make are yours, as are the consequences. A recent BusinessWeek survey reveals the average debt-load for college graduates is $30,000. That's a lot of money to owe -- especially if you leave without a degree.
-- Celebrate your high school graduation safely and responsibly. Remember, from here on out, the repercussions -- both legal and otherwise -- of your actions can have serious and lasting effects on your futures.
-- Routt County is a wonderful place to live, but there's a big world beyond Northwest Colorado. Explore it. Take the time to immerse yourself in the incredible diversity of the people and places the planet has to offer. You'll be amazed at the opportunities life has to offer.
-- Whether you're living on the Front Range or trekking across a far-off land, be active and engaged in the communities in which you live and visit. And, of course, come back to Routt County every once in a while and check in on the people who worked hard to make you who you are today.
-- Follow your heart. Life is short, so enjoy it while it lasts. Don't be afraid of or to change.
-- Whatever you decide to do -- career or otherwise -- do it as well as you can. You'll be rewarded in due time.
Congratulations, Class of 2006, and best of luck in your bright futures.