A giant step | VailDaily.com

A giant step

Local high schools this weekend will hold graduation ceremonies for the class of 2016. And yes, that’s a very big deal.

For those of us who have been out of school for… well, a while now, it can be easy to forget how big a deal high school graduation is. Life is full of big moments and milestones — marriage, children and, inevitably, the death of someone we hold dear. For many of these young adults, though, graduation from high school is the first of the milestones to come.

Graduation marks the end of a structured, highly-regulated routine that has lasted as long as most of these individuals can remember. And, for the kids who have taken it seriously, it’s been a lot of work, as well as an occasional frustration — educational “experts” would be well-served to listen to the jaded view about the value of standardized testing held by many students.

Starting next week, that highly-structured life changes forever — the major milestone of a new beginning.

For many graduates, turning their tassels from right to left marks the beginning of the start down the road to full-time work. School no longer gets in the way of earning a full-time paycheck.

Others, of course, head to college, which can be an entirely different type of education. Many will stay in the valley to take advantage of the great opportunities available at Colorado Mountain College. Others are eager to spread their wings outside the valley.

No matter which route those students choose, the relative lack of structure at the college level trips up many new collegians. Most of those headed to dormitories will for the first time have to learn the faults, foibles and habits of those who aren’t family members, another big challenge. Then there’s the very large issue of trying to find the multiple thousands of dollars required to fund something that, until just last week, had been one of life’s freebies.

There’s a lot for these young people to ponder as they stride off the graduation stage into the rest of their lives. For this weekend, though, let these students, and the rest of us, revel in the accomplishments that led to that stage.

To all of this year’s graduates and their families, we offer sincere congratulations and best wishes for a healthy, productive, adventurous life to come.