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Grads, life’s a series of finding solutions

With the thousands seated in the stands and hundreds lining the fence, family and friends watched as James Lee Young Jr. became the final Class of 2011 recipient of his Screven County High School diploma Friday night.
Then Young and his fellow 194 graduates zestfully slung their collective red and white mortarboard caps into the night sky in celebration of their fulfilled accomplishments.
They take with them the wisdom gained in 13 years of schooling. They take with them Tommy Wood’s advice of “don’t lose sight of what your path is” from the May 15 baccalaureate service. They take with them Matthew Kersey’s charge of “reach your full potential” from the May 9 chamber of commerce honor graduate and SAT 1500 Club recognition.
They also take with them guidance and nurturing from you the parents and members of the community.
And maybe, just maybe, they take with them some insight from yours truly, this ole newspaper man.
While the more subdued parents and friends only evoked tears and a smile while the more flamboyant hooped and hollered, I too was in the mix at the graduation Friday. And this year I may have been more at ease than any other.
But I can wholeheartedly assure you I wasn’t very relieved just days before.
Last week’s Sylvania Telephone, which most of you hopefully saw, included a graduation section for the Class of 2011. Well that section nearly did not happen or at least not at full capacity this year.
No grad section or a scaled back one would have burned into my back a Gamecock red-colored bull’s eye for the young and old to line up in the crosshairs. I would have been an easy target right in front of the graduation podium May 20.
My reason for my grad section conundrum? My computer crashed over the weekend. I tried to turn it on. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. A big, fat hairy nope.
When the computer went kaplooey, I already had completed the layout for the 49 SCHS honor graduate photographs and read over their biographies that were generously provided by the high school. That honor grad total now has grown by four to 53 – belated congrats to Olivia Evans, Jonathan Long, Sydney Wilkinson and Dionne Williams.
However, in an instant, poof, all that was gone. So were the photos of the other members of the graduating class.
Yes, I could redo the information on another computer and download all the head-and-shoulders photos again. And I would have, if necessary.
However, instead of quickly playing a mulligan, I contacted our technology department in Augusta who provided me with a teeny, weenie bit of hope that items on the hard drive could be salvaged. As for the computer itself, it probably is as dead as that armadillo you passed on the road to work this morning.
Thanks to modern technology some prior data was rescued, put onto a DVD, and shipped back to me in Sylvania. With the saved information in hand, I accessed another computer, tossed in some smokescreens, mirrors and well-placed duct tape and we got the newspaper printed.
Did you notice I did not mention anything about wigging out? That’s because neither I nor the staff did. Wigging out does not help. It actually only exacerbates the problem.
What I did SCHS graduates is find a solution.
Graduates, you very soon will be asked to and maybe forced to find many solutions. Don’t whimper and whine. Don’t blame others. Don’t wallow in your own self pity. You don’t have time to waste. There is more out in the world for you and so much more you can give back to the world.
Don’t bellyache. Instead pontificate.
Find a solution. That is what adults do to not only be successful, but, in some cases, do just to survive. And sometimes locating a solution takes extra attempts. Thomas Edison didn’t develop the light bulb on his first try or his 999th either.
As an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a newspaper reporter asked, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison responded, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”
Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because Disney “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” Disney also went bankrupt multiple times before he built Disneyland. The proposed theme park, by the way, was rejected by the city of Anaheim, saying it would only attract riffraff.
Charles Schultz of “Peanuts” fame had every cartoon he submitted rejected by his high school yearbook staff. Incidentally, Walt Disney wouldn’t hire him either.
As evidenced, grads, adding a little persistence to that “finding a solution” notion doesn’t hurt.
In 1992, the year that most of Friday night’s graduates were born, there was a well-played song on the radio with a title that will always hold true for graduating seniors no matter the year.
No it wasn’t “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix A-Lot or “I’m Too Sexy” by Right Said Fred or even “Achy Breaky Heart” by Miley’s dad Billy Ray Cyrus.
Instead it was “It’s so Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” by Boyz II Men. While you are waving bye to SCHS, you are taking SCHS with you wherever you go. You take the good times, the bad times, the glad times, and the sad times. Screven County is part of you.
Earning a high school diploma takes an enormous amount of willpower and a great deal of solution finding. Now, graduates it is time to take that willpower and solution finding to the next level.
As former radio show host Casey Kasem would say after playing those 1992 hits, “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.”

Enoch Autry is the publisher-editor of the Sylvania Telephone.