If you hadn’t realized it yet, yesterday’s heat should have been a clear reminder: summer is right around the corner. That means we’re getting into graduation season.

Whether you’re talking about high school or college, graduations mark major changes for the recipients of their new diplomas. For those students, one way of life is coming to an end and a new one is about to begin.

The changes aren’t always drastic. For some it’s just a trip to a different school within a mile or so of the one they’re leaving. Sure, they’ll encounter a ton of new people, but home and the community remain more or less unchanged.

For others, though, the next steps mean major shifts. Some will cross the country to continue their education, leaving everything they’re familiar with behind. Others will launch themselves into the job market, beginning their careers and entry into a world no longer oriented around academic pursuits.

Whether the changes are large or small, graduation is an unusual time. There’s a well-earned sense of accomplishment combined with more than a little bit of the unknown. Pride, stress and uncertainty combine in new ways.

If that sounds down, it’s not. Those same feelings reappear later, when people change jobs. Marriage and having children can create similar feelings. It always takes a bit to regain our footing when encountering something new, even when that new is the best thing we’ve found in our lives. It’s something to embrace, not fear.

Change is a necessity in life. We grow, we learn, we become more skilled with both people and tasks. That’s all change. That’s all part of what makes life interesting.

It’s also worth recognizing that it’s hard work in itself. While students are hailed, rightly, for their efforts in getting to graduation day, they’re also going through a genuinely challenging time.

No high school graduate is the same as they were four years earlier, when they walked into class as a freshman. College graduates have often spent the past four years living in two places, with home referring to both their hometown and their campus dorm. Yes, people often look back at those years as the best of their lives. But that’s due in no small part to our ability to forget how stressful they were.

The students who are graduating as part of the Class of 2022 deserve this moment in the spotlight. They’ve accomplished something important, shown the world a little bit of who they’re becoming. And it’s clear they have so much more to become.

To graduates’ parents, family and friends: Make sure the graduates in your lives know how proud you are of them. Take a moment to tell them. It’s easy to think of graduation as routine. Thousands experience it each year in our area. But it’s still a first for every single one of the individual graduates.

To the graduates: congratulations. These are moments you won’t forget, and you’ve earned the right to bask in your accomplishments for a bit. Remember, you are surrounded by people who are rooting for you, even when you may not think you are.

Congratulations. Good luck. Enjoy this time of change and potential. There’s so much more that awaits each of you and, as much as your elders may carp about things, most of it really is pretty good.

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There’s one other note we’d like to hit before we wrap up. One of our readers sent us a photo this week of a gentleman who marked his 100th birthday last month and served the area for more than three decades as a firefighter. The photo showed him reading the paper intently.

She explained he had a stroke a few days prior, but still insisted on reading the new edition while he’s recovering. It was a welcome reminder that community newspapers have a place as long as we remember to put the community part first.

Robert, we hope your recovery continues to go well. You have our best wishes.