Vail Daily column: One final word(s) for graduates |

Vail Daily column: One final word(s) for graduates

Richard Carnes
My View

“Our youngest is about to begin his school career at the fully private Vail Mountain School. A challenge, to say the least, for both child and parents, but one that we are willing to try. The idea of the little guy being at the exact same school for the next 13 years (beginning with kindergarten) is very appealing.”

The above paragraph was the beginning to my Vail Daily column published Aug. 17, 2004. He is graduating from VMS this Friday afternoon.

“Wow,” is my own self-understatement of the year.

After experimenting with Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy for a few middle school years, our son returned to VMS and the classmates he began his school career with and has never looked back.

This entire week is highly bittersweet for his mom and I, but we smile at the conclusion of never-ending fundraisers, clothing that no longer fits, the frustration of items going to school and magically disappearing, buying school supplies and uniforms, driving to and from school twice a day, attending plays, choirs, parent-teacher meetings, disciplinary hearings (only once or twice) and friggin’ homework.

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So what highly valuable and questionable advice do I have for this year’s crop of graduates and, more specifically, the last from my loins?

You are on your own.

Although your family certainly has your back, the success of life from this point forward is determined not by the quantity of but the quality of lifelong friends, most of whom will be surrounding you on the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater stage.

Nobody cares anymore if you scored the winning goal, swished the winning basket or bulldozed the slalom gates to stand on top of the podium, as none of those mental videos will pay the rent.

You have spent the past 18 years being told what to do, when to do it, how to do it and when to stop doing it, but now you are about to do it all by yourself. The decisions you make will be based upon a foundation of morals and ethics provided by your parents, teachers and friends, not necessarily in that order.

You and those same friends are better informed, better educated, better fit and have more opportunities for success than any previous generation.

Don’t waste it.

Pay attention, question everything, do research (Facebook opinions are not research), reach your own conclusions and then live your life however common sense dictates.

Replace fears of the unknown with curiosity; never being afraid of the truth. Don’t panic; continue learning to understand the world around you.

You can now leave the parents, have medical treatment without their consent, enter gentlemen’s clubs without a fake ID, get married, borrow money in your own name, rent an apartment, sue someone, be sued, start a credit record, file bankruptcy, pay taxes, vote, take a bullet for your country, serve on a jury or stand in front of one after being charged as an adult for doing stupid things.

But you still cannot legally drink a beer (nobody ever said life was fair).

If you find yourself questioning someone’s character, ask them to watch any 90-second clip from “Blazing Saddles,” “Caddyshack,” “Airplane” or “Animal House.”

If they don’t spontaneously laugh or need to have the scene explained, then back out of the room, slowly.

They’re not worth your time.

Congratulations, you are now an adult.

Richard Carnes, of Edwards, writes weekly. He can be reached at

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