It happens every spring: graduation. For Parker High School, it’s this Thursday May 23 at 8 p.m. at Joe Bush Stadium.
Every society that has ever been and likely ever will be has its rites of passage; those events in a young person's life which indicate he or she is no longer a child and is an adult member of the community. In America, one of our most prominent rites of passage is high school graduation. Coming as it does late in the teen years, it tells everyone that this person is now a grown-up, with all the privileges and responsibilities that come with being a grown-up.
The first few years out of high school can be scary and exciting for a young person. They'll be doing many things as an adult for the first time. They will find out how different the adult world is from high school. In some ways, it’s easier. In other ways, it’s tougher. However, it is very different.
What sort of advice can we who have been at this grown-up business for a while give you? I found someone most of us would consider a failure who actually had some great advice for young people.
In 2017, some seniors at Parker High toured the La Paz County Jail as part of Parker Elks Youth Day. They talked to an inmate who is trying to turn his life around. He noted he had spent 25 of his 48 years behind bars.
“I’ve spent more time on the inside than I have on the outside,” he said.
He told the students to do two things. First, think about whatever they do. Second, he told them to listen to their elders.
“They know what they’re talking about,” he said. “They’ve been there before. I didn’t think about what I did, and I didn’t listen to anyone. Now I wear an orange jumpsuit and handcuffs.”
If we who are veterans of this grown-up business can give you graduates one piece of advice, it would be this: never be afraid to seek advice. You’re new at this, so don’t be afraid to ask someone who’s been around for a while. You are about to find out you don’t know as much as you thought you did, and things aren’t always the way you thought they’d be. Times may change, but those of us who have been there before you remember what it was like. It will look scary and will feel overwhelming at times, but we're willing to help you work through it.
You might be surprised at all the things you will find you can do. You may even discover your parents and teachers know a lot more than you thought they did. Remember: they’ve been there before. It could be they were trying to keep you from making the same mistakes they made.
Good luck, Class of 2019!