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Our View: For Woodard and other seniors, new challenges await




Like hundreds of thousands of high school seniors, Robert Woodard II has decided where he will attend college next year. 


Unlike most, his decision was announced to a gym full of cheering fans Woodard's choice became national news Tuesday evening as he unzipped his warm-up jacket, revealing a Mississippi State shirt, his way of announcing his college destination. 


In truth, there are many qualities that distinguish Woodard from most students whose college choices are generally of interest to family and friends. 


His 4.11-weighted grade-point-average certainly separates him from many fellow seniors. His status as a member of the National Honor Society is of note. His leadership qualities -- he is a member of the Mayor's Youth Council, and his service -- volunteer work for the United Way and Fellowship of Christian Athletes -- also are worthy of praise. 


But those qualities were not what filled the gym Tuesday evening. 


Robert Woodard is one of the best high school basketball players in the nation, the state's top player, and the 36th rated player in the nation. 


The 6-foot-7 forward is an exceptional player and, as we note, an exceptional young man. 


No doubt, his parents, teachers and coaches are to be commended for their influence during Woodard's formative years. He is a talented young man of poise and humility, and we feel a measure of pride in watching his success, both on the basketball court and away from it. 


His decision ushers in new challenges, responsibilities and opportunities, something all college-bound students face. 


And while his status as a exceptional athlete carries with it the burden of public scrutiny few students face, he is like all the others in that respect. 


The best any parent can do is to prepare their children for the independence that comes with the transition from high school to college. Some handle that transition smoothly, as we expect will be the case with Woodard. Others often struggle to find their bearings. 


For all, the path before them will feature unexpected turns, unforeseen challenges, successes and disappointments. 


We hope our children will be up to that challenge, although nothing is guaranteed. 


In that respect, Robert Woodard, for all his exceptionalism, is no different than the other kids, who will soon step into a much larger, less certain world of adult responsibility. 


We wish him (and them) all the best.



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