Graduates ready to face last day - and the world

This week, everyone's attention is focused on one thing, a day only dreamed of last August and one that, in the snowy days of January, seemed as though it would never arrive: The last day of school.

Of course, for some students it really will be the very last day of school. Mount Pleasant High School seniors will graduate June 10 - another class going forth to make its mark upon the world.

Principal Edith Sayewich said she is proud of this senior class and the more than $4 million in scholarships its members have been awarded. That pride is echoed by Sabrina Furr, who as registrar and student services secretary gets to know each student in the class.

Furr said this is one of the better classes she's seen in quite a while. She calls them polite, friendly and great to work with. What's impressed her most is how hard students have worked to do well in school and to be able to continue their education.

She told me about homeless students and students with neither parent working, who have really persevered to find scholarships and the means to be able to go to college.

One new award that will help students is the Mary Anna Lassiter Memorial Scholarship. Each recipient - a boy and a girl - will receive $1,000 for their education. Though there are academic qualifications, selection the scholarship will be based primarily on need, something Mary Anna Lassiter would have wanted, according to her widower, Harry Lassiter.

Mary Anna Lassiter worked at Mount Pleasant High for 31 years. She taught health and physical education, coached sports and worked at dropout prevention.

She and her husband founded the Mount Pleasant Food Ministry. Harry Lassiter calls the scholarship a continuation of their work. Like Furr, Lassiter pointed out that homeless high school students have no hope of continuing their education without financial aid.

The food ministry, he said, has been greatly blessed with community support. He's happy to pass along those blessings to deserving students in his wife's name.

To those students, Harry Lassiter commends hard work and continued study. His advice to graduates is to stick with their education and make the most of it.

Jordan Paschal, Mount Pleasant class of 2010, also has advice for graduates. An outstanding high school senior, he recently finished his first year at UNCChapel Hill. He said leaving high school can be quite an adjustment, especially for students accustomed to small-town life.

Paschal's advice to graduates is to be open-minded about the world and the new people they will meet. Expose yourself to something you're not comfortable with, Paschal suggested. Learn how to connect with all kinds of people. Don't enter situations with preconceived notions, because you may miss out on a lot.

It sounds as though this class of 2011 is ready to face the last day of school and the beginning of new things. Congratulations to them all.