This year's graduating class entered high school at the tail end of the last century. To us, it probably seems like a century ago.
A teenager's world always changes during high school, and that's always hard enough. But the whole world changed while we were in high school.
Besides the usual teen trauma and turmoil, we also lived through the stress and uncertainty of major historic happenings, such as the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the subsequent U.S.-led war on terrorism in Afghanistan and the more recent liberation of Iraq.
We definitely had some distractions. But we made it, and this month we will get our diplomas. It was a lot of hard work and we are proud. .
The school was scheduled for graduation ceremonies last week. But guess what - it's not over. Yes, it was tough work to get to this point, but the 21st century is stretched out before the Class of 2003, and the tough going has just started. We need to keep our drive, our focus and our work ethic to succeed. Only those who do will continue to lead in the future. Contrary to the stock graduation speech, we won't inherit leadership, but we can assume it.
There will be plenty more distractions from here on out. I simply have one request of you. Use your time wisely. As soon as you leave this building you will leave one hard situation and enter an even harder one. So as a fellow graduate, I challenge you do your best in life, whatever you want to do, whatever ambitions you embrace, just give it all you have. We need to set goals and stick to them, whether it is to earn a college degree, pursue a military career or start a business. There's nothing but challenges from here on out.
As Thomas Edison once said "Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." Yes, you might lose faith along the way, you might lose your enthusiasm. But you have to keep on trying. .
It's been shown that it could make progress academically through perseverance and industry.