Nelson Mandela once said, "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."
I would like to share his message with Suffolk's Class of 2015. A good education is your passport to a better, successful life. A better you is a byproduct of a good education.
You probably have mixed feelings about leaving the school where you've spent four years learning, (day)dreaming, acquiring skills and experiences, building bridges and relationships, meeting challenges and adjusting to the changes in your life.
Now, you're ready to on that cap and gown and listen to the strains of "pomp and Circumstance" as you march across the stage to receive your diploma. You are ready to move on with your life. you are ready to go out and, (as Mark Twain said) explore, dream and discover.
On your graduation day, the focus is on you, graduates. Nothing can stop you now. Cherish the moment. Enjoy and celebrate this joyful, memorable day with your friends, family and even teachers who have encouraged and inspired you to never give up.
Take as many snapshots as you can to document the culmination of your high school life. Thank your parents and your teachers for a job well done, and, if you're religious or have a deep faith in the Almighty, thank God for all the blessings He has bestowed on you---good health, mind and body, loving and caring family, good friends and excellent teachers.
You deserve all the recognition, because you finally made it. It's worth all the effort, and you've overcome all the obstacles, challenges and stresses of high school. Now, be happy and enjoy the moment. Then, party safely and responsibly.
It has been said that "knowledge is power." With the knowledge, skills and experiences you have acquired so far, you're ready to move on.
Get out of your comfort zone and realize that long-cherished dream. Don't be afraid to fail. Take the risk. Never give up. Keep on learning.
Use your knowledge and skills to further your education and economic condition. Use them to build bridges that connect, not walls that divide. Use them to promote family stability and solidarity, world peace and unity among humankind.
Remember, the future belongs to you, because you are the future.
You are our future leaders. You have the power and responsibility to share that knowledge and skills and training to others. You have the drive, the stamina and the vision to change the world, to solve societal problems that are affecting the vast majority of global population.
Once again, to the Class of 2015, congratulations and best wishes!
-Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran and former high school and college instructor, lives in Suffolk. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Friday, June 5, 2015. For more information, visit www.suffolknewsherald.com.