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  • Martha Rasche

Dear High School Graduate

Congratulations!

Some of you already have started full-time jobs and others of you are looking forward to beginning college in the fall. Most of you are beginning your summer by attending graduation parties and will continue it to include family cookouts, camping and get-togethers with friends.

When you look back on the Summer of ’23, you want to remember this time of your life as a happy one. You don’t want to remember a car crash, a drowning or any other accident that happened because someone was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The use of these substances has been shown to lower one’s inhibitions and result in risky behavior, is illegal for minors so can lead to the court system, and can affect brain development and intellectual capabilities. What of that do you need in your life, not just now but through any unknown repercussions that could last well into the future?

Make this summer one of cherished memories, not regretful ones.

Whether you pursue higher education or enter the workforce, you will meet peers who are quite different than you – in skin tone, religious and political beliefs, and accent (yes, you have one!). Be respectful of the differences and find the commonalities. We assure you they are there.

If you are moving away from home, take advantage of all that your new locale offers. Get to know the people around you – neighbors, classmates, co-workers. Perhaps you will live in a city; explore it. Perhaps your college will offer free counseling services; use them when you need them.

Many counselors we have worked with are or have been in counseling themselves. They say that most of us could use it at one time or another in our lives, and that all of us deserve to gift it to ourselves as part of self-care.

Not everyone you meet will be kind to you. Some will be surly, angry or downright rude. You don’t know their lives or what kind of day (or week, or year) they are having. Don’t take their words or behavior personally.

As a student told us during a presentation at Southridge High School a couple of months ago, if you wouldn’t take advice from someone, don’t take their criticism, either.

If you have felt overprotected in high school, now is the time to explore your new surroundings and take advantage of them. Yes, that can be scary at first, but the payoffs are priceless. If you have felt anything but protected as an adolescent, now is the time to follow your interests and make friends with people who care about you. Whether you stay in Dubois County or move away, become involved in efforts and projects that you find meaningful. Your choices for organizations to join, nonprofits to help and activities to attend are many. Create your own life, one that brings you joy.

Just a few more things:

You are allowed to change your mind.

You are never alone in how you feel.

It is okay to ask for help.


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