This is my final editorial for the year in The George-Anne Daily, the unedited version (100 words were trimmed for print). They asked me to write a piece to wrap-up the year, so I tried to cover the events, while paying tribute to those graduating. I hope you enjoy it.

Some of my best friends are graduating in a week, leaving the 30460 forever. This is the great tragedy of life, I suppose. We have a short time to really become a part of another person’s life before that era is over. Suddenly, your best friend is a person who represented one part of your life, but no longer is in it. The relationship becomes less important, while the moments you shared linger.

This year, our campus community has shared many of these moments. Ten of us began the semester attending the Presidential Inauguration, witnessing history in person. In these difficult times, it reminded each participant that a new page turns each day, some more significant than others. Bill Ayers, who became a household name in the past election cycle, re-discovered that everyone is not willing to turn a page, sparking a great controversy on our campus. While he was unable to speak at Georgia Southern, and all students were not able to attend the Inauguration, we learned that Eagles enjoy having a conversation about these topics.

We witnessed the first broadcast of the Statesboro Film Festival, a new creative avenue for students and community members to enjoy each year, while watching last transmission from Michael Guido. The Sower has left his seeds to the soil, ours to cultivate. No matter what your story may be, there is an opportunity for you in our town to tell it and find listeners.

Georgia Southern reached a record spring enrollment at 16,664 students, an increase from 804 last spring. Each year, more and more people are discovering that special something we have here, even though no one can really put a finger on it. As prospective students have toured our campus this semester to capture this spirit for themselves, the Regents’ System has ended guaranteed tuition for incoming freshmen. I hope this change will not prevent prospective, future Eagles from discovering the conversations and opportunities for expression in our town.

These represent only a few moments in our time together. There are countless others that I will never know, because we did not share them. These are the nights you shared with your best friends and significant others, the moments we talk about when stories are told. Indeed, for many of us, it is hard to grapple with the concept of staying in Statesboro without our closest circle at our side.

People come and go, the times change and we grow, as every encounter defines the person we are becoming. As these moments come to an end, it is not necessarily bad, but simply the end of one era and the beginning of the next.

Raise your glasses high for a toast, to the times we have shared, the comrades we’ve lost, and the moments yet to come, because there is a long, winding road ahead.