Their faces were filled with smiles - and relief - as they walked to the podium to receive their high school diplomas.

On Sunday, 128 Carroll County High School seniors graduated - the first graduation ceremony this year in the Courierarea. The other schools will follow in the next few weeks.

A lot has been said and written about the quality of education our children receive. From budget cuts to curriculum changes, education has its fair share of critics. But one constant remains...

Year after year, outstanding young men and women graduate from public and private Courierarea schools.

Over the next month, as they walk forward to accept their diplomas, some graduates will be reminded of the wonderful experiences they had in high school and college and wish those days would never end. Others will be breathing a sigh of relief that they survived and are ready to take on the next challenge in their young lives.

Some of those heading out into the world might face challenges finding a job in an unsure economy. But they must know that their education will serve them well. The economy is improving and good opportunities will be there for young people who did well in school.

If the graduates were to step back and think about the past four years they would be surprised at how life-changing their high school and college years were. Consider this:

· Some students found their hard work rewarded with academic scholarships;

· Some settled on a career path;

· Some discovered that they were best suited to pursue vocational skills and excelled;

· Some developed athletic skills that earned them college scholarships;

Years from now we hope this year's graduates will be able to look back fondly on their school years.

Completing school at any level is an accomplishment to be celebrated. Congratulations to those who have completed elementary school and are moving on to high school. Best wishes to those who will receive their high school diplomas. And, a "well done" to those who have earned a college degree.

We wish our graduates well and encourage them to follow their dreams. This country is as great as it is because of those who dared to dream, and then acted on those dreams.

Once you've got it, education is something no one can take away.