Dear graduates, with your graduation you are about leave the comfort of your youth to embark on a new and wonderful portion of your life. Now is the time to grow beyond the security of your youth, your high school years and create new experiences.

Though it may seem you are leaving behind family and friends, you will come to realize they will always be in your in your heart and mind. In fact, with only one high school in our community, everyone you shared these last four years with will remember you and your list of schoolmates will grow into friendships. As the years pass, even the quietest will learn to treasure this fellowship.

I remember wandering these hallowed halls without a clue for what the world would bring. In fact, my college counseling consisted of Mrs. Bennett, our senior counselor, taking me aside a month before graduation to say sometimes kids slip through the cracks and told me I was college material. After informing me I had an appointment to take the SAT test, she then said, "take the test."

My dad cinched it when I asked him the day after graduation, "What should I do?" He told me he joined the military during WWII, getting shot twice; worked as a logger and now had a bad knee. It was enough for both of us - "You may as well go to college." It was a choice I learned to cherish for I found my destiny there.

Each of you must find your own destiny. Be it college, a trade school or the family business.

Explore college, a trade school or a job to find what brings a sense of accomplishment to your life. Find what gives you personal fulfillment; be able to say "all this and they pay me too."

Find your direction by seeking out and talking to school counselors: high school, college or trade unions. Talk to people having a lifetime of experience doing what you are interested in.

If you want to stay in this area, look around to see what career opportunities are available here. If you like to build things, either with your hands or mind, give it a try. Only by trying will you find your true destiny.

Don't worry should it take a few misdirections to determine your destiny. Sometimes finding true north is a process of eliminating what does not please you.

Along the way do not forget your school chums and those who befriend you in your search for a purpose in life. Pity those who succumb to drugs for they will not have long productive lives nor find true happiness.

Stand up and be counted: When the journey through this lifetime to the "promised land" ends, you may only take your good name with you. Make the most of your time on this earth. Live a long and productive life, my friends.

Darrell Moorehead is a Smith Riverresident.