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Advice to graduates: Set your own course

    Remember that moment as a four-year-old walking up the aisle at your preschool graduation? Remember getting up on the stage, turning around to face the audience, smiling wildly when you realize you are the center of everyone’s attention?
   At this Saturday’s PHS graduation ceremony,  each member of the  class of 2015 has earned the attention of the whole community.
    For the graduating class, this is what you have been working for.
    Each and every graduate has secured a place in the spotlight on what we hope will be a pleasant May morning in the middle of Dragon Stadium. Your years of hard work and determination have landed you a diploma and your parents grinning from ear to ear as they watch you reach a first significant milestone in your life.
    This is also a turning point: school is finished, the great whatever comes next. College offers an extension of education to many but what ever you do now your decisions are exactly that - yours.
   While the speeches are rolling, you might be thinking of all the “last times” you’ve had recently - the last time you walked onto the PHS campus, the last time you grabbed lunch in the cafeteria, the last time you saw that curly-haired boy in physics -  remember this is also the time when you can start forging your own path in life.
   Amid the cameras and cell phones clicking off tons of photos, commencement speakers will be lining up to tell graduates “today is the first day of the rest of your lives” or “follow your dreams” or, as Sandra Bullock so eloquently told graduates of Warren Easton Charter High School, “Don’t pick your nose in public.” High school graduation is one of life’s milestones; everyone both nervous and excited for new chapters in their lives.
   Part of making your way in a post-high-school world is realizing that a large part of your life will be filled with work. Gone are the three-month-summer-vacation, two-week  Christmas breaks, week-long spring and winter breaks.
    In this world, finding what you love doing - whether it makes you rich like Mark Zuckerberg or not - is the only way you’ll be content.
   So while you are inundated with advice, know that the only on-ramp to the  path of happiness is finding your passion. Only you can figure out this path.
     See yourself as part of something greater - a family, a society, a world. Enjoy the moments as they come and always be passionate about what you do.
   Graduates remember that your parents will always think of you as that four-year-old parading in a single-file line down the aisle at preschool graduation, walking away from your childhood years and into kindergarten. Now, as you’ve grown in a mere blink of their eyes, from that wide-eyed, pint-sized tyke leaving for kindergarten to that six-foot tall, young adult leaving for college/ the military/ work, you have grown into your own person, a person who can make their own path and reach their own goals.
   So choose well when setting those goals and always be open to new and wonderful experiences. Graduation is not just an end to your high school career but a stepping stone in your life. And in the words of Master Yoda: “Much to learn you still have.. my old padawan. This is just the beginning.”
   So graduates of 2015 - What are you going to do with this one wild and precious life you’ve been given?
   While enjoying graduation day, snap lots of pictures and blow-up your Instagram feeds  marking the day.
   And when the day is over, relish the memories and turn toward your future. We hope they are bright.   Good luck.

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