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Graduates will always have a home in Atmore

By By Brian Blackley, Publisher
Many of our young people are about to take a bold step forward and move into what is probably the most transitional period in their young lives to date.
Graduation is the time that most marks the end of youth and the beginning of adulthood because it is definable and it is, without a doubt, an end to something wonderful and glorious for many people n youth.
But for these young men and women who are about to walk into "the rest of their lives," it is a transition that isn't an easy one to make. Are they still kids or are they adults? Are they free to make their own choices or do their parents still need to make them for them? Are they capable of finding their own direction or do they need assistance in embarking on a trip toward their destiny?
The answer to all of these questions is yes.
They are adults and they are kids. They are free and they require guidance. They are their own people and they are their parents' children. It's quite complex when you think about it.
Many of them will begin working. Many will pursue additional education. Some will flounder, a few will fail. But many of them will find success and happiness in the weeks, months and years to come, though they are bound to suffer some heartache while searching for it.
Still, it is their mission to undertake.
What many of them may not know is that freedom has its price and choices can bring consequences. Being new to the game of free choice, it's going to be a tough lesson to learn for many of them as they experience life's ups and downs.
I passed that point a good number of years ago and I remember the difficulty that I experienced as a result of the uncertainty, the personal trials and tribulations, the choices n good and bad.
My parents were not inclined to attempt to make decisions for me. They stood back, offered encouragement, occasionally offering some constructive criticism and always n no matter how bad things got in those next few years n stood by me even when I probably didn't deserve it.
And there were other members of my family, including my grandmother who would close every bedtime prayer with, "And dear Lord, please bless and watch after my family and guide them to do the right thing n and Brian."
She thought I needed that little something extra considering the messes I often made of things. My aunts, uncles, my brother and my closest family friends and confidants were always there to offer encouragement in the form of a pat on the back or a kick in the seat when they felt I needed it.
But there was another group that was there all along, even though I didn't know it. They were my childhood friends. I went a different way than most of them. I selected the college I would attend and went there alone n all of my classmates chose others. I would see them now and then on trips home and I would call them when I needed to hear voices from my childhood. Over time, I lost touch with most of them. Now, there are few that I have regular contact with.
And that is a shame, because they are part of home, part of my past and part of one of the best periods in my life n childhood.
As these bold new graduates begin to make choices and experience personal freedom, I would encourage those close to them to realize that they will all make their share of mistakes in the coming weeks and months. They will need your help, but they'll need their independence. They will want advice, but they aren't likely to take it (in stark contrast to money, which they will want and gladly accept along with free meals, washing their clothes and gassing up their vehicles). But mostly they will need your support through thick and thin and I hope you are able to give it to them in moderate doses.
I also hope these graduates will have lofty dreams and ambitions and that they will work toward becoming all they want to be. I hope they will learn to make good choices and decisions without having to suffer too much in the process.
And I hope they will always remember what home is. Parents, family, friends, community. Home is where your earliest and most fond memories are formed. Home is where people who love you most live. Home is where you go for strength when you are down.
So to all the graduates out there, be safe this summer and make good decisions. And always remember where home is.