May 2, 2018 11:48:09 AM
We have grown accustomed to the scene: Classmates, teachers, parents and friends crowd into a high school auditorium as a young person announces what they plan to do upon leaving high school. It is often a dramatic scene, with onlookers holding their breath in anticipation until the student reveals his choice to a chorus of cheers and a torrent of joyful tears and hugs.
In events such as this, when a promising athlete announces his choice of where he will play collegiate sports, there is a shared pride among classmates and the broader community. It's big news.
Tuesday, a signing day event of a different sort was held at Starkville High School as 157 seniors "announced," their choices for college.
One after one, seniors approached the stage, seated themselves at a table, and announced their choice of where they will continue their education. Most were not athletes. Most will not attend college on full-ride scholarships that athletes enjoy. Some will stay close to home - at East Mississippi Community College or Mississippi State. Some will venture out, attending school outside the state. Some will be going to prestigious universities on academic scholarships.
But for most, announcing their college choice would have otherwise gone largely unnoticed and un-celebrated outside their immediate families.
Yet, in some respects, these students' decisions have a greater impact on our communities than those of the athletes. Without fanfare, they will continue their educations and, hopefully, return to the community to serve it in tangible ways. The kids who were celebrated today will be the leaders of our community someday. They will serve us as medical professionals, business people, teachers, law enforcement officers and a variety of other important roles and contribute to the health, progress and future of our communities.
Some athletes who are wildly celebrated on "signing day," will achieve those things, too, of course.
But Tuesday's celebration is for those who might not otherwise attract the attention and appreciation they deserve.
There is nothing wrong with cheering our athletes on and wishing them well.
But we believe recognizing all those "other" students who have worked hard, mostly in obscurity, to pursue their educations are equally worthy of our appreciation and acknowledgment.
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