As gusts of wind blew across the Payson High School field at 20 miles per hour, and the sun set, the class of 2012 ended their childhood education to move onto the next phase of their life during the evening graduation ceremony.
“Parents won’t understand this ... we’re the Pokémon generation ...!” said valedictorian Sam Grassel as he clutched at the sashes draped over his graduation gown to keep them from blowing away.
The 2012 graduating seniors roared with approval.
The Pokémon analogy is an apt metaphor. Pokémon, short for pocket monsters, is a video game started in the late 1990s that had pre-teen trainers unleash cute animals with names like Pikachu to battle other Pokémon to become the champion trainer.
The game satisfied the need children have to feel in charge and powerful. It also highlighted the need kids feel for deep friendships and backup.
But most of all, the game made kids want to do their best, as Grassel explained with the words of the theme song’s chorus, “I want to be the very best, like no one ever was ….”
In his speech, Grassel inspired his classmates to try their best and have self-motivation to find success in life.
This year’s graduates need all of the weapons in their arsenal they can find.
The class of 2012 faces challenges as the economy continues to wobble, higher-education costs rise and the job market slowly limps along.
This is the last year for Arizona students to receive full in-state university tuition from the Arizona Board of Regents High Honors Tuition Scholarship. Starting next year, the 2013 graduates will only receive a 25 percent in-state university base tuition scholarship, according to the Arizona Department of Education.
Once they graduate, prospects seem to be looking up. This year, reports find that jobs for graduates started to increase in many areas such as manufacturing, engineering, information technology, and health care.
Most surprising, the U.S. Commerce Department recently released information on wages and benefits of manufacturing workers that reported hourly wages are 17 percent higher than for non-manufacturing workers.
But networking is the key to finding a job. Statistics state that up to 60 to 70 percent of jobs result from networking.
With creativity and foresight, friends and family, this graduating class could find themselves the champion trainer of their Pokémon.