This is a special time of year, one that we look forward to throughout the dull, grey winter months. With all of the spring graduations being held at area high schools, we can’t help but take a moment and wish all of the outgoing seniors the very best. Congratulations to each and every one of you for your accomplishments. This is the first step in the vast journey known as adulthood.

We hope that many of you will be attending college, while those who don’t find some type of skilled trade to make use of your talents and become productive members of society. You see, we need you here in Pine Bluff. We need talented young folks with drive and ambition to help us sustain and grow our community.

With all of the talk about Go Forward Pine Bluff, Pine Bluff Rising and the various other organizations who are trying to lift up our struggling town, we have to chime in and say that supporting our kids, making them feel they are a part of this community, and enticing them to live and work here is vital to Pine Bluff’s future.

We can’t tell you how many times we have heard kids say, “I can’t wait to get out of this town and never come back.” Of course, that’s true with a lot of young folks and their communities. But it seems to happen more around here than anywhere else we’ve been.

So many kids here feel like they have nothing to come back to once they are off at college. It’s up to us to show them that they can succeed right here in our hometown. There are so many opportunities around the corner, we’d hate for them to miss out.

Young graduates, also remember that you don’t have to decide what you want to do with the rest of your life right this second. If you are going to college, spend at least the first year getting to know yourself and exploring new thoughts and ideas. It’s a wonderful experience — one that will change you forever.

For those who aren’t planning on college, don’t ever let anyone tell you that you aren’t bright or smart because of your choice. Some of the most brilliant people we know have never been to college. It isn’t for everyone. Our community also needs skilled tradesmen and women, crafts people, plumbers, etc.

Any job that you do, do it with pride and respect, and you will be rewarded in some form or another. There truly is no greater feeling than coming home at the end of the day knowing you put forth your best effort at your job. And you don’t need a college degree for any of that.

Finally, trust yourself and your instincts. And don’t forget to call home.