To the Class of 2017:

The easy part is over. People will say that if you can get through high school, you’re set. Except for college. Except for a job and a career. Graduates in every generation say the same thing: “I’m glad high school is over.” Yet, many people say they remember their high school days fondly—the structure, the friends, the sports, the activities. All of that without thinking much about how it is all paid for.

If you paid attention to your studies you have exited high school with a solid base of education that will serve you well as you enter your college days. For those foregoing further education in favor of the military or directly into the job market, your education will serve you well, also.

One of the key lessons you learned through the past 12 years of schooling is how to treat people, how to socialize with others. That’s important because the world is full of people. You will meet people at college, at work, in the military, on a mission.

How you deal with other people will have a huge impact on your success. The Golden Rule may sound trite but it has always been true: when you treat others well, you will be treated well in return. Be polite. Don’t be nasty. Be helpful. Don’t be selfish. You know the rules, practice them out in the real world—the payoff will be amazing.

The world you entered at birth is so much different than the world you enter out of school. Everything seemed to be so innocent back when you were a baby. Ask your parents and grandparents—they’ll agree.

You are a generation that lives in a world in which terrorist attacks are common occurances. Terrorism can hit home (as the attack on Portland’s MAX train last month attests), but for most of you terrorism is an item in the news—if  you pay attention to the news.

You are joinng millions of others who are taking their first steps into a post-primary education life. That life will include making good decisions for yourself and others. Too many bad decisons are fueled by alcohol and the mob mentality. Just this week Harvard University rescinded the acceptance of 10 incoming freshman for exchanging obscene and racist Facebook posts.

There is nothing so promising as a high school graduating class that enters the world. Everything is possible, there are rules and boundaries to test and stretch. The same ol’ doesn’t have to continue to be the same ol’.  It is within your power to control the destiny of the planet you will inherit.

And even if you are not going into medical school take a lesson from Hippocrates: Do no harm.

  —LAZ