(Editor’s note: Some commencement locations and times are incorrect in the print version of this editorial. They are correct in this version.)
Hundreds of students graduate from Kitsap schools this week and next. Who among them are our future political leaders? Who among them are our future medical professionals? Who among them will someday build businesses, create the next great innovation, or cure disease?
We have great expectations for you, Class of 2017. Even though eyes may tear as you prepare to embark on this great new chapter of your lives, we eagerly anticipate news of the heights you will scale, the goals you will achieve, the changes you will bring to the communities you will touch.
To the Class of 2017, we offer this message: Congratulations on reaching this milestone in your life. As you stand on the threshold of adulthood, prepared to take on the world, here are some things we want you to know.
The world you inherit is different than the one that existed that first day of school. Our country is engaged in a battle against a dangerous ideology. Our economy is healthy and robust compared to 10 years ago, but many are still recovering from the financial body slam that was the Great Recession. Our country, a land of equal opportunity and equal justice, still struggles to be a land of equal opportunity and equal justice for all.
You have what it takes to thrive and be catalysts for positive change in this brave new world.
You have the confidence that comes from pushing yourself. You worked on projects that enhanced the quality of life in our communities. You spoke out for equality and social justice.
You performed on the local stage, competed in sports, took Advanced Placement exams and classes through Running Start. You expressed your creativity in art and music.
You know about teamwork and fair play, both in the classroom and on the sports field. When competition was tough, you did your best and were a good sport. You offered a hand to an injured opponent. You gave credit to your teammates, knowing the victory was a shared accomplishment. You enjoyed the competition even if a title was out of reach, knowing that the friendships, good health and self-discipline that come from sport have more value than a trophy.
You have resilience, something you learned from living in this unique place. All of your life here, you’ve seen how your community won’t say “no” when the chips are down. When someone in the community needed help, you joined your neighbors in coming to aid. When tragedy struck other parts of the country or the world, you joined your neighbors in responding with compassion and giving. When a local cause needed support, you joined your neighbors in meeting the need.
And now, here you are, donning cap and gown and receiving that well-deserved diploma. Sure, the world poses different challenges for you than it did for us on our graduation day. But you are ready. And your community has confidence in you.
Good luck, graduates.
Bainbridge High School: 4 p.m. June 10, Bainbridge High School.
Bremerton High School: 7 p.m. June 9, Bremerton High School. (You can watch it live on Wave Cable Channel 3, and Comcast Channel 12.)
Central Kitsap High School: 7 p.m. June 8, Kitsap Sun Pavilion at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds.
Chief Kitsap Academy: 5-7 p.m. June 18, Suquamish Clearwater Resort waterfront lawn.
Kingston High School: 1 p.m. June 10, North Kitsap Stadium.
Klahowya Secondary School: 7 p.m. June 9, Kitsap Sun Pavilion at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds.
North Kitsap High School: 7 p.m. June 9, North Kitsap Stadium.
Olympic High School: 7 p.m. June 10, Kitsap Sun Pavilion at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds.
South Kitsap High School: 7 p.m. June 13, Tacoma Dome.
Olympic College: 6 p.m. June 16, Kitsap Sun Pavilion at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds.