Thursday, May 19, 2005

Fielder’s Choice
By Barry Burleson

Seniors start new journey

“High school days roll by quickly for many and slowly for others, but we all experience the same events in those four years, along with the successes, the failures, the new friends and the old, the good days and the bad. The long days of classes were often punctuated by the show of spirit in pep rallies and field days, and all of those fun experiences. These high school days will be remembered forever by all who happen to come this way.”

Those words were printed 26 years ago – in my last high school yearbook.

Last week’s graduation edition of the newspaper was well received. It honors our seniors in Marshall County and highlights the top academic students from each of the schools.

I also attended a recent academic awards banquet and witnessed firsthand a sample of our county’s talent pool.

I grew up loving sports, but believe me, my mom made sure I was focused on my grades. The classroom work had to come first.

High school turns into a balancing act for many — athletics, various clubs, music, band, jobs and of course, studying and tests.

There’s much good that comes from all of those activities. It prepares our young people for the future — because the real world and family life are balancing acts, too.

But the key is staying focused and organized, and keeping the priorities in order. And as the newly-named principal of Holly Springs High School told me in a telephone interview this week, the school work must come first.

Last week in this newspaper’s special section, you saw and read about some young people in Marshall County who are focused, who have their goals and are setting out to reach them.

That’s encouraging. We have lots and lots of quality young people here who will soon be going away to college and representing us well.

The first graduations in the county have been held. Others follow this weekend.

There’s excitement. The door to the future is about to open.

The editor of my high school yearbook (back in 1979) summed it up this way.

“And now, as seniors, we make our exit and leave the stage to make room for others. It’s our time to move on. Our cast breaks up and each of us go separate ways in search of new dreams and goals, but we’ll always remember this final experience and the fun we’ve shared and the things we’ve learned. Our performance has ended; there will be no encores or reappearances, for time can alter the period in the spotlight, but I hope that each person will always recall the happenings, the people, the laughs and the tears that made this year special.”

And what do we remember?

“We looked back and remembered the happy times, feeling the rewards of hard work and dedication. At other times we felt all alone, isolated in the midst of a crowd. Our existence was one of constant new beginnings and continuous endings that filled our lives and our memories. It was our year, molded by the vast and diverse character of who we were and had become.”

It’s been a long time since 1979, but it really doesn’t seem that long ago.

Just a few weeks ago, on a trip back to Hamilton, Ala., I saw a couple of people who I attended high school with. I hadn’t seen them in probably 26 years, but that special friendship shared among classmates remained.

Time flies, which is another reason why we should teach our young people to set goals and dwell on what is most important in life.

Congratulations to all members of the Class of 2005 and best wishes.

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