Our View: The graduate, circa 2011

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Graduation, particularly from high school, is a time of major transition. Students leave the familiar behind; family routines are changed forever. It is a bittersweet time of realizing new possibilities and parting with old friends. Most Alexandria high school graduates are readying for college in the fall, though some will join the workforce and others will attend vocational school.  

More than 1,000 young men and women either have or will soon be graduating from one of Alexandrias four major high schools this month: T.C. Williams, Bishop Ireton, St. Stephens and St. Agnes and Episcopal. Students, teachers and parents alike all hope the graduates are prepared for life in the real world. 

The world these students are entering is uncertain, with wars abroad and high unemployment and financial disarray at home. A high standard of living is no longer a given in America, nor is the expectation that this generation will live better than the one previous. As important as chemistry, literature or Latin, these graduates hopefully learned how to set and meet a budget while in school. Nothing could better prepare students for success in 2011 than the ability to manage their own finances.  

These 1,000 plus graduates are at the same point in their lives stepping out to life beyond high school. And yet, each student has taken his or her own road to this juncture. Each has his or her own story, with parents, family members, friends and others contributing chapters to a still unfinished work. While it may not take a village to successfully raise a child, it certainly doesnt hurt when more than one person lends a helping hand.

All children rich or poor, academically gifted or challenged, a sports star or the last one picked benefit when someone in addition to their parents takes an interest in them. For many students, that person is a teacher or coach who encourages them to step beyond their comfort zone and tackle a challenge. For others, like Javier Blanco (featured in our front page story), that helping hand can be the difference between a dead-end future, or college and a job.

Blancos story is inspiring. The son of Spanish speaking immigrants, he benefitted from the programs and caring workers at Alexandrias nonprofit Community Lodgings. Through two different CLI initiatives, at its learning center and a nearby pool, Blanco improved his academic performance and learned to swim. That led to the swim team at T.C. Williams and grades good enough to land a spot at Salisbury University this fall. 

This week we congratulate Javier Blanco and his compatriots at T.C., BI, SSSAS and Episcopal. Many of these graduates leave behind legacies of academic success and athletic prowess. We hope their next steps, whatever they may be, are challenging yet fulfilling. We hope the things they learned these last four years in high school, and the things they will learn in college or on the job in the coming years, will prepare them for lives of achievement. For if they prosper, so do we all.

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