Reflections on Graduating Class of 2012

Reflections on Graduating Class of 2012

I’ve been at a lot of graduations over the years–my own high school and college graduations, of course, as well as those of family, and friends. It’s an interesting situation, though, when you don a cap and gown and step onto the stage as an elected official but you see those young men and women through the eyes of a parent.

Our 2012 Lee District graduating seniors are like seniors everywhere. They’ve got one foot still in their childhood (although they probably don’t see it that way) and the other in the bright new world of adulthood. Whether they’re headed to more years of schooling, join the armed forces or the workforce, many of the choices that will shape their lives are still ahead of them. The parent in me hopes that we—their families, school system, and government—have done our job right and given them not only the educational and moral foundation to make the right choices but also the resilience to deal with whatever life throws at them.

It’ll be a long time before my daughter and son take their seats on the graduation stage, yet as I watched those young adults file past to receive their diplomas I saw my children and I wondered about the world they’ll find as young adults.

Generations of parents have worried about the world their children will inherit, but the world is moving so much faster now and technology has so changed how we communicate that we’re hard-pressed to know just what we should be worrying about.

We’ve been fortunate this past quarter century. Fairfax County has prospered - and so have our schools and other institutions. Now it seems that we and the entire world are heading toward a period of retrenchment where the services we’ve taken for granted will no longer be as readily available or affordable. Our resources aren’t infinitely expandable. How will we allocate them? How will our schools fare when they’re up against human service needs, transportation, public safety, libraries, parks and the like?

Perhaps every generation faces these questions and finds its own answers. Perhaps parents worry too much. I do believe that we’ll find the right answers to these questions and that the young people setting out in life have the passion and creativity to create the world that I want for my children and everyone’s children.