Ending one chapter, starting a new one

They are members of the Class of 2018, and they will be marching — by the thousands — into their futures.

Students from across Lutz, Odessa, Land O’ Lakes, Wesley Chapel, Zephyrhills, San Antonio and Saint Leo are donning caps and gowns, and are leaving their high schools behind.

These are students who have grown up in the age of technology. They’ve mastered Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. They’re experts at posting to Facebook and YouTube. Their Smartphones are their constant companions and texting comes second-nature to them. And, someday, perhaps not in the too distant future, they’ll be riding in driverless electric-powered cars.

They’ve been witnesses to history.

They’ve seen the election of Barack Obama, the nation’s first African-American president, and also of President Donald J. Trump, a real estate mogul and reality television celebrity.

They’ve seen activism grow, and in many cases, have been a part of it.

After the Feb. 14 slaying of students and faculty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, students — both locally and across the nation — organized demonstrations to pressure lawmakers to make changes to gun laws.

They’ve also seen or have played a role in other growing movements, including the #MeToo Movement, Black Lives Matter and the Women’s March on Washington.

Soon, these graduates will be assuming a larger role in making their own mark on history, both in their personal lives and in the world, at large.

Some will head off to the University of Florida, Emory University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Georgia Institute of Technology, Florida Institute of Technology, Boston College, New York University, Duke University, Florida Atlantic University, University of Central Florida and Florida State University.

Of course, others will be staying closer to home, attending Saint Leo University, the University of South Florida, Rasmussen College, Pasco-Hernando State College and Hillsborough Community College.

Their major fields of study include aerospace engineering, computer science, pre-medical, environmental engineering, biology, health science, nursing, biochemistry, engineering, chemical and biomolecular engineering, chemistry, communication sciences and disorders, business administration, international business and Japanese.

Others will be studying to work in skilled trades, or heading directly to the workforce.

Before beginning a new chapter, though, these graduates are pausing to celebrate their accomplishments so far.

They will gather at events with friends and family to savor this milestone in life.

Some commencement ceremonies will be in intimate settings; others, in huge auditoriums.

And, while the world around them remains unpredictable, it’s likely most of these gatherings will include the time-honored traditions of pomp and circumstance, caps and gowns, speeches, music and photos.

Of course, the big moment comes, for all of those assembled, when the name of their particular graduate is announced.

After the ceremonies come the post-commencement celebrations — as unique and varied as the graduates themselves.

As they head in their myriad directions, to decide their own paths in life, please join The Laker/Lutz News in saluting members of the Class of 2018, and congratulating them on their accomplishments.

Published May 16, 2018

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