It's that time of year again, when hundreds of local young adults taken that next step in their lives.
I'm talking, of course, about high school graduation.
Beginning this weekend, high school seniors will be putting on their caps and gowns, crossing that stage and receiving their diplomas. It is the end of one phase of their lives, but the beginning of so much more.
You'll all move on from this point, some going to college or a trade school, some finding a job and others joining the military.
Some may stay local, while others will spread out across the country to find their way in life.
Hopefully you've all been able to learn some meaningful lessons over the last four years, both from your books and your experiences.
That's the thing to keep in mind as you reach for that piece of paper and say your final goodbyes to your high school lives. The learning never ends. It is a process we continue throughout our lives, whether it is from picking up a book, listening to a lecture, trying new things or simply sitting somewhere and observing.
You're certain to receive a great deal of advice in the coming weeks; bits of inspiration from your commencement speaker or principal, words of wisdom from parents or teachers or just a few tips from your friends along with encouragement to keep in touch.
Hopefully, you don't mind hearing a few pieces of advice from someone who was in your position at one point, a bit longer ago than he would like to admit.
Keep focused and set a series of goals, both things you know you can do and items that will challenge you.
It's not always going to be easy as you set off to build your life.
There are going to be obstacles put in front of you. You're going to have to overcome those to get to where you want to be. That's why it's important to have a picture of where you want to go and work toward that goal.
Try to challenge yourself, though. Don't try for goals you know will be easy to achieve. Try for learn new skills. Aim to run a marathon. Set benchmarks for each goal to help mark your progress.
You'll be surprised what you can accomplish, which leads me to the next item.
Despite the adage, failure actually is an option.
Life isn't painless. You're not always going to succeed at everything you do.
But don't let failure, or the fear of failure, hold you back.
Some of you might not have been accepted by your top choice of college. You might not get the job you want. Don't let that discourage you, though. Use it as inspiration and encourage yourself to get back up and try again.
The only time you have truly failed is when you stop trying.
Don't be afraid to rely on others. You can't always complete a project on your own in school, and in life it is OK to ask for help.
Sometimes, the only way to get through something is to rely on others, whether it be a shoulder to cry on, a helping hand or just some good advice.
While there will be times you have to act on your own, the work of a team can make you stronger in the long run.
Get out of your comfort zone every once in a while.
We're all going to try new things in our lives. Whether it be a new restaurant, trying out a sport, or visiting a new place.
Branch out, learn from others, expand your horizons.
You never know where it will lead you. You might find a new passion, gain new skills or find a new path than what you thought you wanted to follow.
Don't forget your roots.
This area, despite its downside, is our home. It always will be. Hold on to your experiences, cherish your memories and friendships and hold on to all of them.
The next few years will take you all down different paths, but remember where those journeys began and know that it's OK to turn back and retrace your steps.
You can come home again.
(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)