Congratulations to this year’s graduates, who have overcome challenges that would be unimaginable to most people their age, and to the educators who have helped them along the way during an exceedingly difficult time.

Besides the usual stresses associated with completing a degree, which are by no means trivial, most members of the Class of 2019 survived Hurricane Irma.

The storm had serious repercussions for their education on top of the many other privations associated with living in the post-storm landscape.

Most public high school graduates, for example, have spent the past two years on a shift schedule in a temporary facility. And many of their H. Lavity Stoutt Community College counterparts matriculated days before the storm, but somehow managed to finish anyway.

In spite of their struggles, the members of the Class of 2019 have many reasons to be thankful.

In the weeks after Irma, we suspect, most would have learned the sorts of life lessons that can’t be taught in a classroom: the impermanence of material things; how their ancestors lived without electricity and running water; the importance of family and community; and the value of compassion, hard work and sacrifice.

Such lessons doubtlessly will prove invaluable in the coming years as they continue their education or join the workforce.

Further good news is that the territory’s storm-battered economy is starting to hum again. Not only are many recovery-related positions still available — ranging from construction to cleaning to boat repair to desk jobs — but the tourism sector is rebuilding quickly, and financial services has continued to power along virtually uninterrupted by Irma.

Meanwhile, leaders announced recently that the government’s scholarship programme is being reinstituted, with a system for rewarding the highest performing students.

In other words, opportunities abound. Graduates should and take full advantage of them by working hard and maintaining a positive attitude. We also encourage them to remain in the territory and help contribute to their home, which needs them now more than ever.

We anticipate great things from the Classes of 2019.


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