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Graduation: The Ultimate goal and the ultimate community achievement

Over the past few weeks, West Fargo Public Schools has distributed approximately 450 high school diplomas. West Fargo’s Community High School celebrated graduation on May 29, followed by the June 1 celebration of graduation for West Fargo High School.

What a delight it was to be at those events, looking into the bright, expectant faces of those students. Seats all around were filled with family, friends and district staff members, proudly sharing this moment with the young people they had encouraged, supported and challenged over the years.

Very simply, high school graduation is the point. It is the reason that we have school buildings and playgrounds and sports facilities. It is the reason that we employ teachers, principals, lunch ladies and custodians. It is the reason that seven representatives of the community sit around a board table once every two weeks to dissect budgets, student achievement reports and staffing requests.

Everything that we do as a school district boils down to this: We are equipping students with the knowledge and skills that they need to leave us and move on.

There are other measures of student achievement, but high school graduation is a big one.

Just ask an adult who has never earned a high school diploma what they think its value is. The diploma acts as the key to open doors of opportunity that would otherwise remained closed. It is a requirement for further education and for many career paths.

West Fargo, as a community, has the right to be proud of these students and the work that they have done to achieve this goal.

The West Fargo community itself deserves credit, too. Many of our recent graduates may not have gotten where they are today but for the dedication of parents, teachers and administrators who were not willing to settle for less than their student was capable of. It is not easy to be the one pushing and prodding a reluctant child or teenager who wants to do anything but homework.

Gratitude is not always shown for that effort.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the parents, families and friends of the class of 2014 who care enough to expect big things. Thank you for helping with homework and driving students to evening concerts and for listening to book reports. Thank you for not giving up when it could have been easier to do just that.

Thank you to the countless school district staff who spent some of their own resources and many hours each week with these students. You provided consistency for them. You set the bar high for them to strain to reach. You believed in them and told them that they could do it. Those of us looking in from the outside will never truly know all that you have done.

This is a group effort. It is an effort to be proud of. Congratulations, West Fargo community and graduates, on a job well done.