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The path of our lives is never certain

Graduation season is quickly coming to a close, with almost all of our local colleges and high schools celebrating the accomplishments of their senior classes.

It is a time of transition for those celebrating; one most of us have experienced at some point. They are moving into a new stage of their lives, with new challenges and responsibilities.

Those graduating as part of the classes of 2020 and 2021 have been faced with a unique set of circumstances as a result of the pandemic. They have been forced to adjust to alternating between in-school learning and at-home, remote education. Much of their regular socialization, including sports and club activities, were upended.

They were able to meet those challenges, rising above them and, hopefully, they are stronger as a result.

While covering Weir High’s graduation Thursday night at Jimmy Carey Stadium (by the way, I would recommend they consider making that a permanent backdrop, weather permitting) I was struck by the words of senior Thomas DeVecchis, who noted the guidance and support his class had received from the community in recent years, especially during the COVID pandemic.

He made particular note that, one day, he and his classmates would step into many of those roles with the opportunity to provide their own guidance to future generations of students.

That’s really what all this is about, after all. It’s celebrating a milestone in the lives of these young adults as they look back on their childhoods and look forward to the rest of their lives.

They are the future of this nation. They will be the next police officers and firefighters, government officials, entrepreneurs, developers, clergy, journalists and more. They will set the pace for where we go, taking over the mantles for today’s leaders and providing an example for those who follow.

I don’t know that I have any wisdom of my own to share with these graduating seniors, at least none they haven’t already heard from their parents, teachers and other trusted counselors.

There was one analogy offered by Hancock County Superintendent Dawn Petrovich, Thursday, I quite enjoyed, and, given my professional background, it fits. She offered a comparison between life and taking a picture. You focus on your goals and take your shot. If it doesn’t quite come out the way you want, learn from the experience, toss the bad picture to the side and try again.

The same can be said for editing a news article. Write your initial draft, review it, make any changes you want before sending it for publication. Even then, understand it might not always come out exactly the way you had hoped. You learn from the experience and try to do better the next time.

None of us know how our lives are going to turn out. We have ideas of which direction we would like to follow, but sometimes we have to take an alternate course. That course might eventually take us to our original intended destination, or it might provide us with a new dream to follow.

Life, in general, is about adapting to our situations. That’s something these graduates have shown they are able to do, making the best of their situation and still making it to this particular milestone.

Now, they look toward the horizon and prepare to meet their next set of challenges, whether it be college, a technical school, the military or the workforce.

We all, of course, wish them well as they take these next steps.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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