It's hard to believe that it's been nearly a year since I walked across the graduation stage along with the Class of 2016. The past year has completely flown by, and I'm sure that my classmates can agree. After graduation we were free -- off to college, work, to begin our careers and find ourselves. Whatever path we chose, our time at Aurora built a strong foundation that prepared us for this next phase in our lives.

After starting at a university with people from all over the world, I now have a deeper understanding for the true value of my public education. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have teachers that stay late to help students grasp concepts, or an involved school board that keeps students interests at the basis of decisions.

It's no coincidence that Aurora alumni consistently rise above the rest -- not just in rankings, but in our ability to transcend beyond smalltown Ohio, and be at the forefront of global change, innovation and success.

In short, it's because of my outstanding public school education that I'll have the opportunity to graduate early (from American University) because of the vast amount of honors and AP courses that were available to me.

Which is why I urge everyone to vote "yes" on the 5.9-mill levy on the May 2 ballot. It is extremely important to protect the strong school system that you all have created. I hope that generations to come are able to benefit from the same Aurora school district that I know and love -- a system that has provided me with a tremendous amount of opportunities.

Cal DiJulius, Washington, D.C.