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Take it step by step, grads

This is the time when graduating seniors take those daunting steps from high school into the real world — a transition extreme enough to worry even the coolest and most collected young minds. But the young men and women who have just reached academic milestones should take solace in the fact that they have been primed for this moment in their lives by those invested in their success: their families, their friends, their teachers and their communities.

Regardless of which school district one is graduating from, whether Webutuck, Pine Plains, Millbrook or any other, students from around the Harlem Valley have been mentored their whole lives for this moment. Now it’s up to them to take the reins and chase after their own ambitions. They have been given the tools, hopefully, through their schooling, and now must integrate what they have learned as they begin to make their way through this new phase of their lives.

There are many directions our eager graduates may decide to follow; they may choose to pursue college, join the Armed Forces or jump right into a career. Whatever one’s decision, let’s hope it’s been made with forethought and based in reality. Let’s also hope it’s been met with support from those around them. These decisions are no small matter, and while they should of course be well researched, they should also be respected by those on the sidelines.

That said, let’s hope the graduates who have learned so much over the years have also learned to value the knowledge of those in their support system with wisdom to share about what might be in their best interest. It doesn’t hurt to listen to the advice of others, especially since that advice can be considered and then either taken or not.

Using one’s judgment is something that you, young graduates, will have to learn how to do as you make your way through the world. Honing that skill isn’t easy, so you might as well start working on it now. Perhaps it’s something you’ve already been trained to do, while you’ve been developing into the person you now are.

The truth is, life is a series of decisions. Making those decisions is never easy, especially once you realize there are ramifications to every choice made. The key is to take what has been learned thus far and integrate it into what you continue to learn, and to try to make balanced, thoughtful, fair-minded and just decisions to the best of your abilities. Sometimes you will excel at this and sometimes you will fail. That’s what life is all about. The important thing is to keep working at it, to keep trying and to keep learning — no matter where your next step leads you.

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