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This is a busy but gratifying time of year for the Board of Directors of the Forest City Education Foundation.

On March 21, our foundation and the Forest City Community School jointly hosted the Tenth Annual Forest City High School Academic Banquet. We honored and recognized 88 students from all four high school grades. This event sends a clear signal academics come first here and I believe helps the students to realize putting forth their best effort is a habit that will lead to success in their future academic and professional pursuits.

Our favorite event of the year, Senior Awards Night, will be held on May 15, and we will be announcing the recipients of scholarships and grants from our foundation and other donors.

Then it is on to graduation on May 19.

You have often heard me brag about the quality of our young people. The majority of students who excel in our high school go on to excel in college and have successful careers. They receive an excellent education here from dedicated and very capable teachers and administrators and their ability to take classes at Waldorf and NIACC is a "big bonus" which gives them a "leg up" over many of the students they will be competing with at college.

But there is more to focus on than good grades.

Through my work with the foundation I get to know many of our young people and I am privileged to be a friend/mentor to a number of them. It is hard to generalize but I will say I find most of our young people to be mature, have a caring nature and sense of purpose, have a strong desire to "give back" and "make a difference," have a strong set of values and generally are very spiritually committed and faithful and they are very accepting of all their fellow students without regard to race, nationality, sexual orientation, etc.

So, congratulations graduates. We will always consider you to be part of this community and we will cheer for you and support you in any way we can. We hope some of you will remain in the community or return here after completing your education.

Some parting thoughts for you to consider

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* We all go through life bristling at our external limitations but the most difficult chains to break are inside us.

* It is impossible to live life without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not lived at all--in which case you fail by default.

* Respect people with less power than you. I don't care if you are the most powerful cat in the room, I will judge you on how you treat the least powerful.

* The person you are with the most in life is yourself and if you don't like yourself you're always with someone you don't like.

* Things turn out best for the people who make the best out of the way things turn out.

* Time is not measured by the passing of years but by what one does, what he feels and what he achieves.

* Your education is a dress rehearsal for a life that is yours to lead.

* Chose a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.

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