Touch the wall

It is time once again to send off another generation of Islanders into the next stage of their lives. Tomorrow's graduation ceremony for Mercer Island High School's class of 2005 is an event filled with fanfare and joy.It is inevitably bittersweet.

Even after the students leave the district -- many of them have spent an entire 13 years of public school here -- there is still so much to tell them. But their biggest races, achievements and accomplishments are yet to come.

Graduation is an important milestone, but for the grads themselves, it is a time to pause before moving on with their lives. It is a marker in a lifetime of change and opportunity -- the completion of an important but single stage in a distance event.

This community hopes that graduates will take with them a set of skills and values to prepare them for a lifetime of challenges. A passion for learning is one of the most important values that educators and Island families hope to pass on. We hope to send forth young adults prepared not only for further academic study but with the tools to develop into whole human beings: involved and tolerant citizens, responsible decision-makers, people able to make and maintain valuable human relationships.

They are able to go wherever their dreams take them, whether its to colleges, vocational schools, the military, volunteerism or the work force.

They have practiced. We have coached. The time for practicing, conditioning and coaching is over, now it is time for the next stage of the race.

Like the swimmer finishing a lap in a race, graduation is the touch of the wall before pushing off once again. The swimmer takes a breath, looks up perhaps, then turns away to plunge ahead to the next lap. And at the side of the pool, we cheer and wave and recede into the distance.

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