There they are. The high school class of 2019 has been turned loose on us.

There were proms and parties. Some have taken a farewell trip.

They will squirm through the graduation ceremony with a speaker who may tell them what they need to hear. I hope they listen, but they will be antsy to get it over.

Goodbyes will be said to best friends. You might not see them again for twenty years, if ever.

They think this is the biggest event of their lives. I hope they are wrong.

Some think their education is over and they’re probably right. At some point they decided to quit learning anything new. The world is full of fools, but we always need a fresh supply.

Some are about to marry. Refer to the line about fools.

A high school diploma is a “learner’s license.” The real education is about to begin. The seniors have only learned how to learn, they’ve only covered some of the basics.

I wondered what I would tell a class of high school seniors if I had the chance. Here goes.

Learn a language. Your success will depend upon how well you communicate in an international marketplace. A second language opens doors you didn’t even know were there.

Find a hobby that requires you to develop a skill. The time will come when you will need satisfaction at your own pace.

Things belong to those who want them most. The person who wins is often not the smartest but one who doesn’t take “no” for an answer.

Go see a play or attend a concert. Force variety onto your life.

Take risks. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Predictable people are boring.

Shut up and listen. People will think you are fascinating if you let them do the talking.

You only get two shots at a first impression — how you look and how you sound. People make accurate judgments about who and what you are by the way you look and talk.

Make cross-generational friendships. Learn from those who have already made the mistakes.

Shut off the television and read a book a month.

Take time for the less fortunate. Community service is dues we owe our fellowman.

Start saving money. It doesn’t matter how much you save, but saving regularly that matters. Set aside a portion of your pay that belongs to tomorrow. Saving inspires confidence.

Learn something about your family history. One day you will wonder where you came from.

Get away from your parents for a few years. You need to develop into yourself and you can’t do that around people who changed your diapers.

Write down your mother’s favorite recipes.

Stop dressing like an idiot.

You are about to enter a world where there are no excuses. Others tried to pump up your self-esteem. Starting today you are your own support system and responsible for your self-esteem.

Your stuff no longer belongs to everybody else.

The educational system went to great lengths to treat everybody “fairly” and keep you from being offended.

The world is not fair and crying won’t change it. Being offended now and then is really good for you.

Racism and prejudice exist but wither in the face of competence and excellence.

You were a kid for awhile. You’ll be an adult forever. I wish you well.

Joe Phillips writes his “Dear me” columns for several small newspapers. He has many connections to Walker County, including his grandfather, former superintendent Waymond Morgan. He can be reached at joenphillips@hotmail.com.

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