[r63] Graduation season is upon us

Posted by: Zach Weismiller  | Friday, May 23, 2014

For every graduate and their family this is an exciting time of year. For parents in particular, graduation ceremonies are a time for reflection. We wonder where the time went and how our little ones grew up so fast. As a father of four, with my youngest son Luke graduating this year, I speak from experience.

Graduation is not just about reflecting on the past though; it is about looking towards the future. Graduation marks the start of the next phase of life for our young people. There are new memories to be made, opportunities to be had, risks to be taken and challenges to be overcome. Their personal experiences combined with their education have been steadily preparing them for this moment, and while each graduate will embark on a different path, one thing is for certain; Indiana provides an excellent environment for young people to live and build their career.

As a parent and a legislator, I know that it’s not long before yesterday’s newborns are today’s high school graduates, which is why we must continue to invest in our children right from the start. I am pleased to report that this session we accomplished this by passing House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1004, a law that provides up to $15 million for a preschool pilot program. 

Research shows that children should have 1,400 hours of reading by the time they enter first grade; however, most children of poverty receive only 25 hours. HEA 1004 will provide low income Hoosier families with access to quality early education programs which will get our youngest citizens off to a great start. 

Some of our 2014 graduates will immediately go into the workforce while others will choose to further their studies by attending a university, which are both viable and respectable paths to take. We must continue to provide high school students with every advantage to succeed in today’s dynamic marketplace once they graduate, whichever path they take. 

This session, we worked towards this goal by passing HEA 1003, which provides grants to eligible school corporations and charter schools who partner with businesses for training students for high wage, high demand jobs. 

We also passed HEA 1181 which provides school corporations access to grants and funding for their career and technical education centers. There is no one-size-fits-all option for our grads and their families when it comes to making these postsecondary decisions, which is why it is important that we to continue to diversify students’ educational opportunities. 

Here in the Indiana, we take pride in our higher education institutions. They are tremendous assets for both traditional and adult learners, equipping Hoosiers with the knowledge and skills they need in order to succeed in our increasingly competitive economy. I believe that a strong traditional curriculum combined with career and technical education opportunities will prepare our graduates to take the next step towards becoming the future business leaders and innovators in our state.

I’m extremely proud and excited that my son will be graduating soon and attend Marian University in Indianapolis this fall. After carefully weighing his options, Luke will be studying pastoral leadership which I believe matches his strengths and interests perfectly. I couldn’t be more thrilled for him. 

I wholeheartedly believe that passion, combined with a willingness to learn and a strong work ethic will create opportunities for success in any situation. I wish every graduate the best in all of their endeavors, and I am confident in saying that their parents, teachers and mentors have prepared them well to overcome any obstacle they might encounter. While it is difficult to predict what will happen in the future, we know that whatever decisions our children make, our prayers and support go with them.