To the Class of 2014

This week is special for many high-school seniors. These young men and women will walk across a stage as their names are called and will be handed a diploma marking their accomplishments during the past 12 years. They have completed their “formal” education and are now heading into adulthood.

The ceremonies will be emotional and symbolic. Parents, siblings, grandparents and family friends will watch as their love ones begin the next chapter of their lives. The graduates will be filled with excitement and joy. They will listen as speakers give them some last words of advice. They will be thinking about their own plans, be that going to college, getting a job, traveling, or remaining nearby to help those at home.

Their thoughts will jump from what they have planned following their ceremony, to the fact that this may be the last time they will sit with their friends as the Class of 2014. Most of us have been there. Most of us have that memory of high-school graduation to which we drift back to at this time of year, no matter what age we are.

It’s a magical, bittersweet moment that comes and goes so fast. It’s a milestone.

For the Class of 2014,  their first weeks of kindergarten were shadowed by the horrific events of Sept. 11, 2001 that forever changed our nation and our world. It was also the year of the iPod, Enron’s collapse, the shoe bomber, anthrax attacks and the start of the War on Terrorism.

By sixth grade, there were iPhones, the start of the Great Recession, and the country had elected its first black president.

Seventh grade brought Twitter and a second Twilight movie. By eighth grade, the country was consumed by the debate over health care as Obamacare became law, and a devastating oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

By the time the Class of 2014 entered high school, Osama bin Laden had been killed, and by the end of 2011, the war in Iraq was over and the last U.S. combat troops came home.

Their sophomore year was marked with Hurricane Sandy and the reelection of President Obama. Here at home, Jay Inslee was elected governor.

This year, as seniors, they watched as Congress debated the role of the NSA, while the use of marijuana became legal in Washington state. They cheered on their own Seattle Seahawks who won a Superbowl for the first time ever.

Graduation is a time for reflection on how the world has changed and to think about what lies ahead. Whatever plans each graduate has, the world awaits you. Do your best. Be true to yourself. And be proud of your Kitsap roots.


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