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You want the world? Make most of school

December 6, 2009

To the children and students of the 21st century: May I have a few words with you concerning an issue of utmost importance?

I challenge you to remain in school, get a good education and prepare yourself for the newly arrived 21st century. A world of opportunities and unimaginable possibilities are attainable if you properly prepare yourself for these challenging times.

A good education is the greatest gift that you can give yourself. If you respect and love yourself, you will do this. If you want the best life possible for yourself and your loved ones, you will do this. Quite simply, education will affect and determine your very lifestyle, your standard of living and your eventual outcome in this life.

For some, it will not be easy to remain in school. It will take extra doses of motivation, determination, discipline, courage and, yes, persistence. However, always remember: For most of us, nothing is accomplished without a struggle. Remind yourself every day that your future is at stake here. Believe in yourself and the philosophy of: "Yes, I can! Yes, I can!"

Foremost, it will take a positive and committed attitude. I profoundly believe in the adage, "More times than not, it is your attitude rather than your aptitude that determines your altitude in life."

Some even now might say: Why? What's in it for me? To those I say: Everything! Believe me, in today's highly competitive society, you will earn what you learn.

Let this be a wake-up call.

Education is the "great equalizer." Education will allow you to catch up, stay up or get ahead in life. Once you get knowledge and information, it is yours to use, to explore, to create, to inspire and to do.

Educated people, generally speaking, live healthier and longer lives. Educated people are more likely to remain trouble-free and crime-free. And educated people are more likely to live the "good life" than so-called uneducated people are. Like it or not, that's the way it is.

Education is sort of like a "bank of life": You have to make deposits in order to make withdrawals. In other words, your job, right now, is to go to school and get a good education. For the rest of your life, you will be able to make "withdrawals" when you need them.

It is not as difficult as some may think to get a good education. Please allow me to let you in on the "three secrets to acquiring a good education": 1) attend school every day, 2) behave properly when in school and 3) do the class work and homework to the best of your ability. When you think about it, it's that simple. All you have to do is take pride in yourself and your work.

What you think about, you bring about. It's that simple. Think about it. Aren't there things that you want to do in life? Don't you have dreams? Don't you want to make a difference? Wouldn't it be great to leave the world a better place than you found it?

"Education is the key to the lock of life." Look all around you:

Who constructs the skyscrapers, shopping malls, apartments and houses? Who fixes the lights, heat, plumbing and air conditioning? Who doctors and nurses the sick?

Who teaches and counsels? Who manages and leads the people and the organizations? Who builds the air terminals, train terminals, highways and interstates? Who discovers the cures, new medicines and new technologies? Who designs and flies the aircraft and spacecraft?

Who directs the armed forces and the military weaponry? Who makes the clothes, shoes and other garments? Who harvests the crops and cultivates the forests?

Who designs the automotive vehicles of the future? Who takes care of the ecology and habitat of the future?

More importantly, who makes the peace and unites the peoples of the world? Who raises and encourages the children of the future?

Whoever they are, they will have to be knowledgeable, empowered, competent and efficient. Whoever they are, they will have to possess wit and wherewithal.

More than ever, education is the wave of and link to the future - your future, my future and our future. The ball is now in your court. It is up to you to make it happen. You can do it.

Horton is a retired Marine sergeant major and juvenile probation officer. He volunteers with inner city communities and organizations.

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