I love to see young people moving on to the next phase of their lives. During the day, I’m in an area where I can see so many teens heading to the prom. If I’m close enough I tend to give the young ladies and gentlemen a compliment. For many this is the first time they have put on a tuxedo or a long gown. It seemed the girls were more elegant this year in gowns that were age appropriate.


I work with several parents who have children that are graduating and attending the prom, I don’t know who is more excited, and my guess at this point would be the parents. If you know a young person that is graduating from high school or college give them a word of encouragement. This is a difficult time for youth. There are so many negatives in the world that they need as much positive influence as they can get. There are a lot of good kids and after watching the news, sometimes we tend to forget that.

Fortunately I’m in the business to see a lot of outstanding young people. By covering scholarship luncheons, dinners, cotillions, and presentation balls I get to meet the extraordinary teen, the one who can blow you away with their resume or their essay skills.

If you’re invited to a graduation celebration find a card that has meaning. I’m sure when the graduate first opens the card they will look to see what falls out, cash or gift card. But later that evening or perhaps later that week they will read the card and just may remember those encouraging words or that special note that you wrote.

I found the perfect card for a young man that I know who is graduating and heading to Carnegie Mellon University. The verbiage tells him to dream big and that the world needs more young men just like him, one who is dedicated to his goals and willing to do great things for his people. There is a picture of a handsome Black man on the front in a cap and gown holding a diploma. I may add a check or a gift card. However I think young people heading off to college should register somewhere like Target or JC Penney and list the items they need for their room. This is a big expense for parents and even more so if they have more than one child. The last graduation gift I gave consisted of sheets and towels for the young man’s dorm room. I’m not sure how happy he was but his parents were very excited to see that they had one less thing to buy to set up his living space.

Let’s give youth encouragement; these are our doctors, lawyers, bankers and teachers of tomorrow, our Fab 40 of the future. And one last note everyone does not go to a four year school but they still have a future, possibly community college, the military or a specialized school, it is still moving forward to the next step, the next phase of their life. Give them a pat on the back and a word of praise.

I’m heading to a graduation party with gifts in hand and I’m expecting big things from the class of 2011.

(Email the columnist at debbie­norrell@aol.com.)

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