Graduating from high school is one of life's most memorable mileposts, as unique as one's first day at school, one's wedding and the birth of one's first child.
The members of this year's graduating class have never known a world that didn't include microwave ovens, compact discs and DVDs. They are utterly at home with a wide variety of audio and computer gadgetry that remains a mystery to most of their elders.
Most members of the Class of '10 were born as President Clinton was coming into office and were still in grammar school on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. But that event has shaped their lives, and will continue to do so, in ways that many of them may not even comprehend as yet.
Their teen years were spent with a pair of far-off wars steadily in the background. Some of their older brothers and sisters and friends are in uniform, many of whom have already served overseas and returned, and some of whom are now overseas in harm's way. And some of this spring's graduating seniors will soon be in uniform as well, and we reserve an especially proud salute for them.
But every member of this year's class was old enough to be aware of the historic significance of a defining event of their junior year: The election and swearing-in of America's first African American president, Barack Obama.
Unfortunately, many of the teachers who helped educate these fine young people are now out of work, thanks to the roughly 1,000 layoffs approved by the Cobb school board this spring in a desperate attempt to balance the budget. Indeed, this is a tough economic market to be plunging into for those of this year's graduates who don't plan to immediately pursue a college degree or enter the military.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing, then, about the Class of '10 is how normal it is. Today's teens are perhaps more worldly than their predecessors, but are still motivated by the usual teen things - the desire for good grades, finding a date for the prom, wearing the latest fashions, getting a driver's license and a car, etc., - and not necessarily in that order.
Whether a graduate of one of the county's oldest high schools or its newest, these young people are encouraged to do their utmost to continue fulfilling the expectations of their families and communities.
It took a lot of hard work for the Class of '10 to arrive where it is, but if its members keep it up, they'll find the realization of their hopes and dreams is just beginning.