School officials are hailing an unusually large crop of summer school graduates as an example of successful efforts to prevent dropouts.
But the large number of students crossing the Greenbrier High School stage Friday were mostly a testament to their own perseverance. With all the changes in curriculum and additions to "Carnegie unit" requirements, it's pretty surprising that so many students manage to graduate on time.
However they make it to the stage, those who take a little longer have just as much right to be proud of their accomplishments as their classmates who participated in the system's main commencement exercises May 23.
My Harlem High School class on Saturday will hold its 30th reunion. Among those attending are nerdy students who packed in the work and graduated early, and slackers who took a little longer and had to wait a few extra weeks before getting their diploma.
You know what? If we were to compare our diplomas three decades later, we'd see they mean exactly the same thing: We graduated from high school. How long we took to get the document isn't as big a deal as the fact that we got it, period.
The newest members of the class of 2009, then, deserve just as much pride as those who finished on time.
It's a little disappointing that some Columbia County school officials seem to be sending a message that they don't think so.
Every member of the Columbia County Board of Education attended the graduation ceremony and shook the hands of the new graduates. Ed Williams, the principal of summer school, presided over the ceremony. The guest speaker was Tony Wright, the school system's director of human resources.
Wright also was the highest-ranking school system official attending the ceremony. None of the five people from the central official with "superintendent" in their title showed up - even though the 4 p.m. event Friday was during a workday, and certainly more convenient than the Saturday exercises in May.
Superintendent Charles Nagle certainly had a good excuse for skipping; he was recovering from surgery.
But what about Deputy Superintendent Sandra Carraway? What about Associate Superintendent Lauren Williams? Associate Superintendent Robert Jarrell? Associate Superintendent Deborah Franklin? Couldn't just one of them have taken an hour or so to deliver a few well-earned pats on the back to the county's newest graduates?
I know, I know; it probably isn't a big deal to those grads. They've gotten their diplomas and undoubtedly are focused on looking ahead.
But I hope the central-office muckety-mucks can see they're sending a subtle message that unless you graduate on time, you just aren't as important. As one of those who needed a boost from summer school 31 years ago to graduate on time, I sure wouldn't agree with that message.
One message I do agree with is gloriously emblazoned on the front of the strip mall across from the Evans Wal-Mart. It's just two words: Augsburg Haus.
Yep. The German restaurant is moving to Columbia County.
It's about time. The U.S. Census tells us that German is the most common heritage in Columbia County, yet there isn't a single German restaurant here. Augsburg Haus, currently located on Walton Way, would be our first.
The restaurant is owned by Adolf and Hazel Hermann, who happen to be Columbia County residents. Mrs. Hermann says they plan to open around the first week of August and that they'll close the Augusta restaurant.
The one in Evans is a little bigger, she said - and yes, it will be open for Oktoberfest.
Incidentally, we tried the new Angel Island restaurant this weekend. The food and service was excellent. It's a little hard to find, tucked in by the new Food Lion next to Home Depot in Evans, but it's well worth the hunt.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail email@example.com.)
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