It is an exciting time of year for many people. Teachers are counting the days with anticipation as the school year comes to a close. A friend told me that the two best days for boat owners are the day they buy the boat and the day they sell it. It may be similar for teachers whose favorite days of the school year are the first and the last!

Students are excited that summer break is just around the corner. Like teachers, many students thrill at the first day of a new school year, and the last day as well. Then there are the spouses of school teachers and parents of students, all of whom readjust every June to a schedule with no school.

Within the whole education arena, the most excited of all are the graduating students and their families. It is an occasion that signifies an ending and a beginning. Just prior to writing these paragraphs, I was at a graduation ceremony. There was great excitement in the air. The students looked so grown up and distinguished in their caps and gowns. They marched to the music of Pomp and Circumstance as families and friends watched with expressions of pride and joy on their faces.

The ceremony was well planned and came off with only a couple of minor glitches. Select students made their speeches, school faculty and administrators played their roles well, and the keynote speaker delivered a wonderful address that was applicable to students and parents alike. Many of the family members were dressed in style, and armed with balloons and flowers that let us all know we were at a true celebration.

I know these graduates clearly understood that this is only the beginning. Bless their hearts, they will enter "real school" next year as kindergartners, and they have been well prepared for what they will face. That's right; this was a pre-k graduation ceremony, and the auditorium was packed with proud, enthusiastic moms, dads, relatives, and friends.

They will graduate again next year from kindergarten. A few years later they will graduate into middle school, and then they will enjoy their high school graduation. Even in our day when employers prefer to hire college graduates, the high school graduation seems to remain the grandest of all graduations.

Approximately 1,700 students will graduate from high schools in Douglas County this year. Each one will experience significant change in his/her life, and over the next five years their course will be charted and pursued. So yes, high school graduation is a big, big deal.

I am giving all of our graduates a gift this year. Will you join with me in prayer for these young women and men, that they are prepared to walk with purpose and courage; that they will seek and find wisdom to make right choices in academics, career, faith, and relationships? Such a gift will be unmatched, for the prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.

Steven Callis is the minister at First Church of the Nazarene in Douglasville.

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