It’s a big week for our two local high schools — it’s graduation time and it looks like the ceremonies will be as they were in the past.

The only exception is those who have not been vaccinated are asked to wear a mask, even at the outdoor event.

What a feeling it will be to be outside and in stadium stands once again.

Congratulations to all the 2021 graduates from Pittston Area and Wyoming Area. Things are looking up and these incoming college freshmen will be able to attend school as intended.

Related Video

Each June before commencement I’ve been giving my own rendition of a commencement speech. It’s been fun to do and even though there were far smarter people in my high school class qualified to give a commencement speech, I’ve been able to offer my thoughts.

This is the part of the column where I’ll talk directly to graduating seniors:

Looking back at life at my age, there are so many regrets. You should live your life with no regrets, but at 18 years old, you have a long way to go, and unfortunately many regrets ahead. Will you have what it takes to absorb what you’ve learned and use it for the betterment of your life?

Your future will be filled with many “Y’s” in the road and you’ll never know if you’ve taken the right one until you do it.

Don’t ever be afraid to take chances. You never know if your leap into the unknown is the right one until you do it. If you don’t take a chance and get out of your comfort zone, it will just be another one of your regrets I mentioned.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot to be said for having a comfort zone. After all, it’s safe, it’s easy, and it is the path of least resistance. I bet if you took a poll, there will be a high percentage of people that wish, or regret playing it safe (I’m raising my hand).

I always admired my friends that decided to up and leave good old Greater Pittston and Wyoming Valley to attend college in a different location. Some of my friends went to college a few hours away and some left the state all together.

I didn’t have that opportunity, but I think living on a campus away from family is a character builder. I believe it forces you to mature faster and to get the feeling of being somewhat independent. Of course I don’t mean financially, but being on your own without mom and pop over your shoulder supervising.

If you can’t go away to college, the next best thing is staying local and attending Luzerne County Community College. It really is the best bang for your buck (I mean your parents’ buck) and the instruction is topnotch.

Credits from LCCC transfer to just about everywhere, and imagine being able to cut your college debt in half. Oh yeah, college debt; it will rack up over four years at an institution of higher learning.

Paying back a student loan over 20 or 30 years can’t be fun, and sometimes the loan payment is as large as a mortgage. So why not save money and get a good start on your education by going to LCCC?

Some of you may not want to attend college, some may head out into the workforce and some may end up in the military. Both of those choices are not a bad avenue to go down if college isn’t your thing.

If you think about the military route, you can put in 20 years or so and retire. That’s crazy that you could retire at 38 years old or so. Most people I know that took that route used whatever skill they learned in the military and started a second career they would work at for 20+ years.

The other thing that always amazed me was when someone knew exactly what they wanted to do for the rest of their life at the age of 18. Heck, I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.

Laugh if you will, but that’s an awful feeling as you muddle through life. You are constantly wondering if you’re doing what you were meant to do.

Last week I mentioned Sandy Grove who is a teacher at the Tiny Learners’ Learning Center. She always knew she wanted to be a teacher and if you’ve watched her at her craft, you’d know she’s doing exactly what she was meant to do.

I read a statistic many years go stating that only 25% of the people graduating from college do exactly what they went to college to study. That’s not such a great number, and I hope that’s changed and improved over time.

The comedian Jim Carrey once said (I know, wisdom from a comic, but he said), “So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality … You can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”

So whatever path you choose, get out there, work hard, do your best, and don’t forget to thank your parents often.

Quote of the week

“Life is not easy for anyone. Sometimes you don’t see the challenges on the outside, but every single one of us has both those and everything that goes on inside as well. Give it your all. Dare to be all you can be.” — Hillary Clinton

Thoughts of the week

“Your graduation is a dress rehearsal for a life that is yours to lead.” — Nora Ephron

Bumper sticker

“Be bold, be courageous, be your best.” — Gabrielle Giffords