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Class of 2011: Here is a bit of unsolicited advice
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It’s pomp and circumstance time again.

The Sierra High, Ripon High, East Union High, Manteca High, Lathrop High, Weston Ranch High, and Ripon Christian High Classes of 2011 will receive diplomas in the coming weeks.

One of the trappings of what has become an American rite of passage is the inclination of everyone to give graduates advice - teachers, parents, relatives, complete strangers and even those who pen newspaper columns. I don’t want to dilute the serious messages such as those that urge you to work hard, to assume your share of the generation-to-generation responsibilities of a civilized society and not squander opportunities. That’s all important stuff.

But equally important is to pop all of those hot air balloons launched by pundits and others who are eager to tell you how stupid and lazy you are.

First, let’s address the stupid thing. Given the fact information is doubling roughly every three years or less and the growing tendency to test students as if they are laboratory rats, it isn’t amazing at all that test scores on SATs and such aren’t climbing rapidly year after year.

Put aside the obsession with tests for awhile and ask yourself this question: If for the past 30 years plus we’ve been wringing our hands nationally on how horrible the end result of our education system is, then why are we as Americans leading the way with technological advances in virtually every sector? There must be a lot of stupid production workers, researchers and others who have just been plain lucky after earning high school diplomas and then going on to college, trade school or directly entering the workforce.

Lazy? Don’t worry. You’ll be lecturing your kids on how you had to use a gas-powered scooter to travel two miles to school. Lazy is relative. There was a time when your parents’ great-grandparents had to walk four miles to school virtually barefoot. The odds are if they were able to take a glimpse at how you get to school today they’d say you’re pretty smart which essentially wipes out the “you’re stupid” refrain.

Sorry, but the stuff about how ill-prepared high school graduates are to handle simple business tasks doesn’t wash either. It’s not a new complaint. And as far as not having work ethic and drive, that isn’t the fault of the school system if you do indeed lack those qualities. I’m not a big fan of blaming parents either. Your first big test in the work ethic department is about to happen unless your parents are writing you a check for a million dollars or you win the California Lottery.

As far as implying this generation of high school students can’t cut it, I’d like to see how well graduates from 30, 20 or even 10 years ago can handle high school tests today. I’m willing to bet it would be a mixed bag just like it is today and just like it was back then.

Yes, you have awesome opportunities and responsibilities as well as - pardon the cliché - the whole road of life ahead of you.

You don’t know it all. Neither do those older than you. One never stops learning.

But on the flip side the unbridled enthusiasm you have even if you harbor reservations about what lies ahead is part of what makes you an American.

Bask in the glory of the next few days. You earned it. Have fun and don’t forget the fact that your best days - as well as those of America - still lie ahead.