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Column: An inspiring tradition continues

It's become something of a tradition since I started writing this column. Every year at this time the people in charge of planning graduation ceremonies at Farmington and Rosemount high schools neglect to ask me to speak (Given how many years my invitation has gotten lost in the mail now, I start to understand why the post office is struggling) and every year I choose instead to share my message to the graduates in this space. Because we all know how much today's young people like to read newspapers.

Quick side note: When you write a column like this one, calling something a "tradition" mostly just means "One week out of the year I don't have to think of a new topic to write about." And now you've learned something.

But this isn't a column about me. There's plenty of time for that next week. This is about the graduates. Rosemount High School's class of 2013 dons caps and gowns Saturday night. Farmington High School follows suit six days later on June 7.

This is an interesting time to enter post-high school life. There are signs the economy is improving, but student loan debt has become a significant issue. Some students headed off to college next fall might be putting themselves in a financial hole it will take years to dig out of. Some soon-to-be graduates are discovering there are ways to their future other than enrolling in a traditional four-year college. Some are attending two-year schools like Dakota County Technical College. Others are finding other paths for their post-high school life. They're joining the military. Or maybe the circus. Clowning is an increasingly respected career choice, I've heard. And trapeze work is always nice if you've got the knees for it.

Maybe this isn't the inspiring speech you expect to get a graduation ceremony. Maybe, now that I think about it, this is why I never actually get invited to speak. Still, it's better than my college graduation, when our speaker, a respected heart surgeon, told me and my fellow graduates not to set our sights too high, because we would only be disappointed.

In his defense, he was talking to graduates of a liberal arts college. He may have had different standards for us.

But, again, this is not about me.

The reality is, there is a lot to get excited about as you Irish and Tigers head out into the world. Many of you are headed to college. Some to the working world. Maybe a few of you are headed to the grease paint supply depot to put the finishing touches on your clown faces. Whatever your destination, you will encounter many things that are brand new.

There are new experiences to have and new people to meet. You will do things that will become treasured memories, and you will do things you will regret. Sometimes you will even know before you start which is which. Sometimes you will do the regret things anyway.

That's OK, but probably stay away from the trapeze thing I mentioned earlier. It's really not for everyone.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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