Congratulations to graduates

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Our Opinion

By Dave Bell

During the next few days, the strains of “Pomp and Circumstance” will drift out of gymnasiums throughout the area.
Graduates will don robes and turn tassels. Speakers will affirm and exhort. And parents will offer sighs of relief and shed tears of joy.
It’s graduation time in Fayette County. It’s a time of endings and beginnings. It’s a time when students are making plans for their futures – whether that be in college, the military or the working world.
Over the past four years, we’ve covered those students as they’ve made their way through high school. We’ve printed countless pictures of school activities, we’ve reprinted honor rolls and we’ve covered thousands of athletic events.
It’s been an honor to be a part of the journey with the Class of 2013. They’re a special group, with some outstanding individuals who will do amazing things in the future.
Here’s the lineup of graduations for area schools:
Friday: Patoka, 7 p.m.
Saturday: Mulberry Grove, 1 p.m.; South Central, 7 p.m.; St. Elmo, 7 p.m.; and Vandalia, 7 p.m.
Sunday: Ramsey, 3 p.m.; and Brownstown, 3 p.m.
But all is not well with our schools. In fairness, most are doing as well as can be expected, thanks to cutbacks already taken by teachers and administrators. But because of significant funding shortfalls at the state level, many downstate school districts have begun deficit spending – or are quickly approaching it as their hard-earned surplus balances gradually evaporate.
Those state aid cuts already have impacted the districts’ ability to provide a well-rounded education. And if those cuts continue, school districts will be faced with cutbacks that will fundamentally undermine the quality of education our students receive.
Certainly, it’s not an easy time in Illinois for funding of any type. Our fiscal house is in severe disorder. And real solutions are hard to come by. But as we seek a way out of the mess we’re in, education must be a priority. If not, we’re compromising our future.
On a happier note, take time to attend one or more of the graduations scheduled for this weekend. You’ll be heartened at the accomplishments of our students, in spite of the challenges swirling around them.