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Viewpoint: Sobiech's message resonates, inspires

It has been an incredibly emotional period for many of us in the Stillwater Area Public Schools' community. In a few short days we've celebrated with hundreds of our young people as they prepare for the next exciting stage of their lives, and we've cried as a school family as we've said goodbye to an inspirational young man who left us far too soon. I'm so proud to be a part of a community that places such a high value on its young people.

On Monday, May 20, the annual Scholarship Awards event was held at Stillwater Area High School to recognize more than 100 high school seniors who received post-secondary scholarships. These monetary awards came from a variety of regional and national corporations, local small businesses, district residents, and school employee groups and added up to more than $600,000.

Equally impressive were the students who received these awards. These graduates are pursuing careers covering various engineering fields, nursing, bio-medical sciences - to name just a few - and will be attending prestigious colleges, universities and technical colleges across the state and country. I am continually amazed and impressed by the high quality of our students. Their ability to achieve such success is a direct result of the support they've received from parents and family, school staff and members of our community. I thank everyone for their support and guidance of our soon to be graduates in the class of 2013.

That same morning another impressive Stillwater Area High School student, Zach Sobiech, lost his life after a courageous battle with osteosarcoma - a rare form of cancer. Zach was only 18 years old and just weeks away from graduation. He left us with an inspiring and hopeful legacy. Zach wrote and performed a song that became a sensation attracting four million hits on YouTube and reaching the No. 1 spot on the iTunes chart. Zach also became a spokesperson for the fight against cancer with all proceeds from his song going to the Zach Sobiech Osteosarcoma Fund.

Aside from all of this, Zach was also an amazing young man. He was positive and always brought out the best in those around him. Zach reminded us of the important things in life, in his own words "you don't have to find out you're dying to start living." Thank you to the Sobiech family for raising such an exceptional person and sharing Zach with all of us. He definitely left the world a better place to live in.

With graduation just around the corner I encourage us all to take a moment to remember what our young people are capable of. Each and every one of our students deserves an opportunity to reach their full potential and find their own path to make an impact in the world. Our future depends on this. It is weeks like this that make me proud and incredibly grateful to be working with our young people.

Lunn is superintendent of Stillwater School District