The class of '07
This is the season for graduations.
Students at Lenape Technical School already have commenced their adult lives . Seniors in Armstrong District schools will be graduated on the evening of June 12.
It is tough to switch from a lifestyle one has known for so many years, a schedule set by others, a lot of friends sharing a common agenda, people who tell you how well or how badly you have been doing, but not paying you.
You know life promises to be different and challenging.
As a practical matter, many will go on to college or some other form of post-secondary education. Others will go into the military. Some will be fortunate enough to find jobs. A few might decide to wait awhile before setting a course.
One conclusion the grads may have already drawn is that somewhere other than Armstrong County will be the focus of their lives for some time to come.
Does it mean that they will lose their loyalty to their hometown?
The answer we'd expect to hear from them is "no," with a follow-up to the effect that it is just a matter of getting the best education and experience and going where the jobs are in a worldwide economy.
But we call on a few who might be willing to accept a challenge -- as we do every year around this time.
One thing many students have learned is that Armstrong County -- indeed Western Pennsylvania -- is a good place to live and to raise a family.
But much like the plains of the nation in the 1890s, there isn't much in place to make things grow. Life here requires a re-pioneering if you will.
How that will be accomplished is not for the older generations to say. It is for the young generation, represented by the current graduating classes. They are the ones with the energy, the enterprise and the creativity to see what a revitalized rural and small-town Pennsylvania can become.
In recent years around the nation, planned communities have been popping up in which families, seeking to drive less, are walking to workplaces and stores, and building their lives inside of close-knit communities. To be sure, they are expensive places to buy into and require huge investment and potential for return.
But those designed communities take their direction from the way things used to be right here in Kittanning and Ford City and Rural Valley and surrounding areas. Those were the good old days.
Graduates, you are the ones who can determine when the next good old days will be.