It is a great accomplishment, even for us as we celebrate the graduation of granddaughter Amanda Karski Ellington, a recent Etowah graduate, from Georgia Medical College with her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing. Another real milestone in Amanda’s life.
While graduation day is a major event in every graduate’s life it is also a scary event, facing the uncertainty of what lies ahead of them out in that cold competitive world that lies beyond the doors of home or of the institution issuing their graduation diploma.
Most graduates dream of this day and anticipate its coming with joy. Some think of it as their day of liberation — a day of finally becoming free of all restraints — no more home work, no more restraints on coming and going from parents and no more research papers to hand in.
For others it is often a lonely day, a day of separation from close friends, of wondering what lies ahead in that real world of personal competition.
But for the grad who has listened to wise counsel from family members and teachers it is the first day of the rest of life — a life that can bring either joy or misery — depending on the choices made after they walk off that stage into the real world of life.
In April, Joan and I had the privilege of sitting in on the Senior Project presentations for 16 Woodstock High School seniors.
Following Amanda’s graduation, we took her and her husband Adam to a local upscale restaurant to celebrate to reinforce the spiritual foundation she had received locally by attending and graduating from her four-year early morning LDS seminary program, a one-hour class each morning beginning at 6 a.m. of the school year.
Her seminary studies included one full year each on the Bible’s Old Testament and New Testament. Amanda knows her scriptures well, a definite plus in that cold harsh world she has now entered to find her place in the work force — and in society.
Amanda’s spiritual foundation was also strengthened while attending BYU Idaho by taking more seminary classes — before transferring to GMC.
I have emphasized Amanda’s spiritual foundation for a reason. I want to remind all graduates that having a spiritual foundation, knowing who you are, where you came from and your purpose in life, is of equal importance with the secular foundation represented by their diploma.
Let me remind those who will disagree with me that for the first 125 years of this nation’s history the Bible was the primary textbook of every student.
This was because Congress in 1787 passed the Northwest Ordinance that encouraged all students be taught “Religion, morality, and knowledge, [believing it] being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind…” in this order — with religion first.
This religious foundation required by Congress, later declared unconstitutional by a progressive-led Supreme Court, served America well, and would serve this current generation well once again as students face their uncertain world.
It will be, and always has been, easier for graduates to face their world of constantly changing ideologies, where the forces of evil will ever be in opposition to the forces of good, if they have a solid spiritual foundation.
It will be easier to resist the temptations of the Tempter when he entices them to succumb to alcohol, drugs or pornography — habits that often lead to crime and imprisonment.
Learning to make good choices is often the hardest thing any individual will ever do. And without a strong spiritual foundation, having been taught correct principles, too many falter.
As they leave school friends behind they will need to choose their new friends wisely — friends who will uplift and strengthen them in their moments of stress, where one bad choice can affect their entire future.
Hopefully they understand personal freedom is not free but must be worked on daily. When individuals choose to use drugs or pornography, often to be cool or to be accepted, it often becomes a trap that destroys their life. Graduates, bad choices bring enslavement, not freedom.
Graduates of 2012 — you are part of what some call the “Great Generation.” Now enjoy graduation and face your future with confidence — and by choosing well. Again, congratulations!
Donald Conkey is a retired agricultural economist in Woodstock.