I have yet to truly understand what defines the millennium. Something about its significance is left unrevealed. Our transition and preparation for this new era are widely discussed and consume our thoughts as a nation. While there is talk of the year 2000, do we really know what challenges it begets? If it is to be as demanding as many predict, how prepared are we to face those demands?

The varied perspectives of the new century make me uneasy. As some extremists await the end of all life, I ponder the beginning of my own. This year marks the completion of my high school career, and the commencement of my independent life. I have lived my life in Prince George's County, and hope to stay. After spending 13 years in its school system, I now wonder what I will confront in the 21st century. I'm consistently puzzled as I reflect on my training and subsequent readiness for what tasks await me in the new millennium.

I have always "thought big." While not driven by material gain or status, I've always pictured myself leading a productive and fulfilling life. The humanities are my passion, and as such, I plan to study romance languages before pursuing a career in international relations and diplomacy. As my graduation approaches, I'm driven to wonder how tangible these goals really are. With rapidly growing technological markets and an overwhelming abundance of talented youth, it is easy to be engulfed in a sea of insecurities. While what the millennium will bring remains shrouded to us all, I am hopeful that I will be able to make a contribution to society and lead a comfortable life.

While I have reservations about the millennium as it applies to myself, I am overjoyed with what I consider it might bring for others. Our potential advancement as a culture leads me to believe that more efforts will be made to provide more resources and opportunities for the underprivileged. I also feel that more will be done to preserve the environment and address other topics of global concern. Though my thoughts on the millennium have yet to solidify, I am assured that it will bring many long-awaited changes. My reservations are linked only to my limited understanding of this transition, and what our future as a nation will be.

-- Aaliyah Bilal, 17,

senior, Oxon Hill High School

CAPTION: Above, Aaliyah Bilal leads a student council meeting. At left, Aaliyah talks with students after the meeting.