Valedictory speech: Everyone is special in their own way

Good afternoon everyone and congratulations to the class of 2012! Cathryn just expressed this sentiment in her speech, and I agree. I will always treasure the bonds within the class of 2012 and the memories we made in high school, including this one: during my last AP Government class, my teacher, Mr. Schels, explained that he maintained a tradition of holding a "Final Seminar" for his seniors. He gave no other details or explanations. When we walked into class on Monday afternoon, he handed out a packet containing what he considered to be the most important work we would read in his class — Dr. Seuss' Oh, The Places You'll Go!

As a child, I underestimated the value of this "children's book," considering it trite wisdom about following your dreams and succeeding in life, typical things proud parents constantly tell their children. However, being a soon-to-be high school graduate brought an entirely new appreciation for the book. Dr. Seuss wisely explained, "You'll be on your way up, you'll be seeing great sights, you'll join the high fliers who soar to high heights."

A recent commencement speaker at Wellesley High School would consider this advice overly optimistic, as he built his address around the idea that if everyone is special, then no one is. But as I look out at my talented and accomplished classmates, I can't help but disagree. In spending my high school career working with painters, debaters, athletes, and every other type of person imaginable, I've come to see that each and every one of us possesses our own unique talents. Some of us can bring an entire audience to its feet with their production of Oliver, some of us throw the game-winning touchdown, and some of us actually understand physics. However, we're not entitled to anything, and our individual accomplishments alone don't make us special. In working together as a community of innovative and conscientious thinkers, we have and will continue to achieve great things, including leaving a legacy of environmental friendliness by founding clubs such as Marine Bio or Organic Garden.

Use your talents wisely. Do what you love — not to impress others but for your own personal happiness. Make true friendships that last a lifetime. If you harness your own uniqueness and use it to better the world, you will succeed.

In the immortal words of Dr. Seuss, "You're off to Great Places, Today is your day, Your mountain is waiting ... so get on your way!"

Congratulations, class of 2012!