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Congrats, class of 2011

In today's newspaper you will find a special West Linn High School graduation section. You may recognize some faces and names - and we do, too.

On Tuesday, a sea of West Linn High School seniors dressed in green and gold walked across a stage at the University of Portland's Chiles Center before a crowd of cheering friends and family members at this year's commencement ceremony. Our staff was also on hand to take in all of the festivities.

As your community newspaper, we wanted to wish these graduates good luck on upcoming endeavors. Many of these students we know by name and have followed through the years. Some have written for our newspaper; some are newsworthy because of their participation in sports, music and theater.

Some we look forward to reporting on in the future.

While a city of thousands, West Linn is really a small town. We all rely on one another, support one another and share experiences. Our job as West Linn's hometown newspaper is to report on what's noteworthy - these bright-eyed students preparing for the rest of their lives seems highly appropriate. In many ways, we're all extended family.

Graduates, savor this moment. And while you are no longer high school seniors, know that there will always be tests throughout life. It's how you react and prepare that counts.

Use the skills acquired while in West Linn schools to begin your next adventures. The world awaits you - and with the Internet it feels much smaller. Sign up for college classes that interest you, try different internships and make too many contacts - you never know how you might find your next job.

In college I became interested in the media business. I'll never forget the day I attended my first newspaper class. I walked out of the classroom on fire. That passion then carried over into film classes and on-campus jobs with my university's daily newspaper and TV station. After returning home for the summer I saw that the West Linn Tidings was looking for interns and I signed up. And so my career began.

Treat everyone you meet as a potential friend and job reference. Use Facebook for more than photos of your lunch. And if you need to start a YouTube channel devoted to your passion, do it. Be the best at it. Own it.

Sure, you're entering the professional world, but just remember you'll always be the CEO of your business - you. You are in charge of your destiny. Immerse yourself in new friends and skills and take way too many photos. So you switch majors, live without a car for a few months and acquire a palate for Top Ramen. Savor it.

Really, life isn't going to drastically change overnight. I've been out of high school for more than a few years and it's still all about who you know, how good you are at what you do and what parties you're invited to. Congratulations, class of 2011. Don't forget to write to us and tell us about all of your new adventures.