OUR VIEW: The world's been waiting for you, class of 2011
As we prepare to watch another batch of graduates shove off into post-high school life, it's worth recalling the colossal news items that have punctuated these seniors' final months in school.
Let's recap - briefly.
-- All eyes turned to Egypt in February when citizens there fed up with then-President Hosni Mubarak began a revolt against the government that sent shockwaves across the region still being felt today.
-- The world gasped in March when word spread that a 9.0-magnitude earthquake had struck Japan, creating a merciless tsunami that would ravage the island nation's coast and put a nuclear reactor site there on the brink of total meltdown.
-- Americans sat glued to their televisions - and Twitter updates - last month when word got out that President Obama had a major announcement to share. That announcement was, of course, that the world's most sought-after terrorist - Osama bin Laden - had been killed by American special forces.
-- The latest string of events occurred later in the month when severe weather swept across the country, laying one Missouri town to waste and reminding those of us in Minnesota that disaster can indeed strike anywhere.
The idea here is not to strike fear into our graduates as they embark on their journey. They understand as well as - if not better than - many of their elders did at this age that the world can be a harsh place. (Recall that these young people were born the year the World Trade Center was first bombed in 1993 and have spent the majority of their lives living in an America at war.)
Rather, the message here is that we will need them to adapt to and, one day, lead us through a world where international events have immediate impact at home. To say these young people must be problem solvers is a gross understatement. They must be problem anticipators, among other adaptations we will come to expect.
Sound like a big hill to climb? Don't start sweating just yet. These youngsters are already way ahead of us. They don't need to be reminded about things like worldwide connectivity and the global marketplace. These folks grew up with the Internet, after all. Meanwhile, the renewed message of academic rigor has nipped at their heels since they were in at least eighth grade.
Now they need to stretch their owns legs as they begin to figure out this thing called life.
But they will need a little encouragement along the way. Consider giving a graduate a pat on the back after the mortarboards return to earth. It could do a world of difference one day.