by R. D. Fish

Inside this newspaper are photos and profiles of the Stover High School class of 2017.
I typed those profiles myself, so I got a close look at our 35 graduates’ most cherished high school memories and their plans for the future.
One thing I noticed was how many of this year’s graduates plan to study for at least a two-year college degree: two at Missouri State in Springfield, two at Linn State Tech, one at Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, one at Mizzou in Columbia, one at Central Methodist in Fayette, two at UCM in Warrensburg, one at Missouri Southern State in Joplin, one at Cottey College in Nevada, Mo., one in West Los Angeles, Calif., and approximately 15 of them at State Fair Community College in Sedalia.
Just think! At least 25 of 35 members of the SHS class of 2017 are college-bound – more than 70 percent.
My interest was most piqued, however, by Remington Verts’ answer about what he plans to do with his life. He intends working at a discount store, writing novels, and deciding later about college. Once upon a time, I would have recoiled in horror at such a waste of a gifted mind. At this stage in my life, I wouldn’t knock the idea.
While I wouldn’t trade my college memories for anything, my degrees haven’t exactly opened the world like an oyster.
I scored my best-paying job so far by having insane typing skills – which I can trace back to a summer class I took between fourth and fifth grade.
My current job, which I enjoy more than any other career I have tried, uses skills I built in high school and my first two years of college, when I took journalism classes and wrote for campus newspapers. So, I would be qualified for the job I have today if I had ended my studies after my A.A.
I recently overheard someone say the only time he ever needed his high school diploma was when he applied for college. It’s true, a diploma isn’t so important once you have a college degree or work experience.
But even a degree might not be as important as a work history. The cost of college has gone up a lot in recent years, but I don’t think the value of a degree has gone up with it. Maybe Verts has the right idea.
Cultural critic Clive James wrote his idea of the ideal career was a Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. job he could leave behind after work hours, allowing him enjoy a rich cultural life during evenings and weekends.
Based on my experience, I would only urge Verts to reconsider choosing retail as his day job. Employees at that type of store don’t get to choose their hours, so much. They don’t get day shifts, so much. They don’t get weekends off, so much.
It’s no picnic to juggle a full life of theater, concert, and conference attendance with a retail work schedule. And taking in culture is an essential part of becoming a better writer.
What I would prescribe to a patient like Verts is a job at a newspaper. There, you can see how other people write, and have other people look at how you write. There, you can hone your style down to a strong, sexy leanness. There, you can, at least, be sure of your daily crust while waiting for your books to make money – if they ever do.
You might even, like me, stumble on a career you love – or at least a job that allows you to make money by writing.
Among other careers, six SHS graduates stated interest in nursing or medical careers; three want to be some type of engineer; six want to teach or work with children; one wants to work with animals; two plan to serve in the armed forces; one each plans to work as a mechanic, a truck driver, a welder, an equipment operator, a social worker, an oil field worker, and something to do with management; at least two plan to operate their own businesses.
I bid them all Godspeed, and wish them success as they pursue their dreams.

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