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High school days are over; now enter life's classroom

By C.T. BOWEN
Published May 28, 2007


After 13 years of schooling, you probably think you've heard it all.

Be on time. Study hard. Write neatly. Don't run in the hallways.

And the temptation might exist after the pomp and circumstance this week to flash back to Phil Connors' realization that Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney had no consequences:

"I'm not going to play by their rules any longer."

Wrong. Life is filled with rules and even more so with unsolicited advice.

High school graduates are about to receive some more. Consider it one last lecture before getting that diploma:

Be prepared. Just because a handful of you get to walk at commencement without passing the 10th-grade FCAT doesn't mean life will be so full of forgiving people. In the real world, if you don't achieve the stated goals, there are consequences, including a loss of presumed rewards.

Be careful with the body art. Don't acquire prominent tattoos or pierced body parts if you want to be a teacher. It's probably not a good idea if you want to enter some other professions, either.

Don't cheat, particularly if you're a teacher. Don't blame others if you're caught cheating.

Don't adopt a sedentary lifestyle. You shouldn't need the governor or Legislature to tell you to get 30 minutes of exercise each day.

Don't water your lawn on the wrong day and don't let the homeowners association bully you into violating the law.

If you enjoy fireworks, ignite them at a reasonable hour and be considerate of your neighbors. Manners count. If you're going to shoot off fireworks to celebrate, be sure to have a hose handy. The perception of illegal watering beats the reality of a brush fire.

Don't move to the country and then criticize the farmer next door for shooting off cannons to protect the crop from birds.

Learn the Heimlich maneuver. You can't always count on the voice at the other end of the 911 call to be able to assist you.

Live within your means. Credit cards are not free money. And don't bounce checks.

High school ended, but not the tests. In government, they are known as pilot programs. Just don't ignore the results.

Recycle. Sadly, you'll be in the minority.

Ditto for voting. But do it anyway. Besides, the new optical scanner equipment means voting for Pedro will be just like filling out a Lotto card or the standardized test answer sheet. Just don't Christmas-tree your ballot.

Fill out surveys. Feedback is important.

Pay your taxes. Even if you think it's too much, we all have to pay for schools, roads, cops and firefighters.

You don't have to stop carpooling just because you're out of high school. Buckle up. Wear a helmet if you ride a motorcycle.

Volunteer. Maybe even at a school.

If you choose elected public service as a career, please attend the prerequisite meetings. You'll be fulfilling your public duty and it'll keep people from talking about you.

You missed teacher appreciation week, but you can still thank the faculty members for a job well done.

And lastly, this piece of wisdom to the Class of 2007 from a barber. It can apply to the choices in life; to the political paths available on the fringes; to the daily interactions with friends, family and co-workers.

Of course, it also can govern leisure time on the links.

His parting words after each haircut:

Hit 'em straight.

C.T. Bowen is editor of editorials of the Pasco Times.