http://pleasantonweekly.com/print/story/print/2011/06/10/facing-the-21st-century


Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - June 10, 2011

Facing the 21st century

Congratulations to the Class of 2011, the largest ever to receive diplomas from Pleasanton's high schools. A total of 1,166 students will walk across the stages set up tonight on the football fields at Foothill and Amador Valley high schools. For Amador, this is its 88th graduating class; for much newer Foothill, it's the 38th class to receive diplomas since the school opened. Another 80 graduated earlier, including 70 from Village High School and 10 from Horizon High, a special school operated by the Pleasanton school district. After graduation night parties and a few weeks to rest up, most of these graduates will leave for college, having gained admission to state and national schools despite tough acceptance policies because of the excellent credentials Pleasanton high school diplomas offer.

Although jobs continue to be at a premium, the types of career opportunities available to the Class of 2011 are mind-boggling. They're far different from careers graduates considered just a decade ago when most jobs were in the brick-and-mortar industries, and in construction, retailing and teaching. Those jobs still offer opportunities, but the recent growth of Internet-based Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon.com and other now-billion-dollar companies offer far different possibilities in "cloud" technologies. And who better to go after these promising careers than those in the Class of 2011 who have spent much of their school years with a cell phone at the ear or learning ever-faster texting skills. Graduates might take their parents on a drive through Hacienda Business Park or Silicon Valley to see how few of the businesses now there were even around in the years they finished high school.

Ecology and environmental college majors and subsequent careers also have wide appeal to today's high school graduates. Gone are the days of typewriter whiteout and carbon paper, replaced by the delete button and carbon footprint. As the public and government regulators demand more green building and energy conservation, college admissions officers and employers are already in hot pursuit of those who want to specialize in these careers. Because of the Pleasanton school district's long focus on "going green" -- from rooftop solar panels to trash cans for recyclables -- high school graduates here are ready to take on that challenge.

Particularly noteworthy also are the 30 or so who will graduate next Wednesday from the Adult Education program that is operated by the Pleasanton school district and helps those who, for whatever reason, never received a high school diploma. They're completing that step now and often under trying circumstances, raising a family and holding down a job as well. They can provide good testimony for those questioning the value of a high school education. In today's tough job market, so-called lower-level and clerical jobs increasingly require a diploma. These older graduates are also finding more interest from prospective employers they've contacted who are impressed by their perseverance to learn skills needed throughout the workforce. They deserve our congratulations, too.

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