What we think: Graduating seniors belong to all of us

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By The Staff

Shelby County High School, Cornerstone Academy and Corpus Christi High School are about to graduate their latest senior classes, which are always days of great celebrations for teachers, parents and, particularly, the students.

But this year we challenge the entire community to celebrate graduation day.

In the midst of economic issues, with factories closing and futures uncertain, we must remember that the most important and incomparable commodity of Shelby County is the young people we deliver to the real world each year.

The group we pass along in 2009 is an accomplished one. You don’t have to follow the news closely to recognize the winners for talent and ingenuity, for academic achievement and for athletic excellence that they represent. Shelby County this year has 16 Governor’s Scholars, a record.

These are accomplished students from a system that believes in them.

High school never has been easy, and the burdens and pressures on young people grow ever intense. Academic requirements, complexity of scheduling, competition and the ever-present social distractions make learning – and particularly excelling – so very difficult.

Shelby County High School’s graduation rates had improved in a recent report, though not to a level that is comfortable to administrators or parents, and there is the tendency to feel a level of success for some students who simply go to school regularly, receive a diploma and move on.

Tuesday night SCHS honored dozens of graduating seniors for their accomplishments through their careers at the school.

Some were given scholarships to continue their educations, and others were honored more simply for their excellence in certain topics of study. Some simply persisted through a 4-year career and stood out for that effort.

But each award winner, no matter if he or she went home with $20,000 or simply a piece of paper, deserves our heartfelt congratulations.

Tonight and on Friday, when the students’ names are called and the applause rings out, we encourage everyone involved in this process to take a moment and smile.

Yes, successful students are our community’s most important commodity.

And we all can share in that success.