Every year, Voxitatis comes up with an adjective to describe the high school graduating class, and this year, we extend our congratulations to the “vocal” Class of 2015.
It is the people of a generation who have found and used many diverse ways to communicate their ideas in different places—from social media in all its forms to opt-out letters about state-mandated testing to protests that occasionally turned violent. That is our justification for selecting “vocal” as the adjective to describe this year’s high school graduates.
It is the people of a generation who frequently find themselves wining and dining friends while using smartphones, whining about how much time they spend on their smartphones, and getting lost when they don’t have their smartphones handy. They are at the same time connected with people around the world and disconnected from everything in the world, and each of these properties of youth is more strongly pronounced this year than it has ever been in the past.
In taking up causes and speaking out for what they believe, they have taken advantage of social media in ways people of previous generations can’t even imagine. While the messages themselves haven’t changed much over the years—end injustice, provide for the poor, keep school strong, stop abuses by the government—the loudness of their cries has increased substantially over what it once was, thanks to the prominent use of hashtags.
And so we wish them well and wait in joyful hope to hear good things from and about them in the future. The hearing won’t be the difficult part, though, as they have made their presence known and felt in online forums and communities. Rather, it’s the “good” that gives us the most pause, as it’ll take some time and effort for them to jump over the hurdles their own mixed messages of the last year have put on their paths. They are the kinds of things that won’t go away because young people have thousands of friends on Facebook or because they’re able to raise thousands of dollars on a crowd-funding website.
About 3.3 million students are expected to graduate from high school this year, including 3.0 million students from public high schools and about 0.3 million students from private high schools. The percentage of high school dropouts among 16- through 24-year-olds declined from 10.9 percent in 2000 to 6.6 percent in 2012, and the rates also declined for whites, blacks, and Hispanics. These are hopeful signs, so again, we congratulate all the seniors in the Class of 2015 on the occasion of their graduation!