Good evening, fellow graduates, parents, faculty and guests. I am honored to stand here today and share with you what I have learned in my time at Lynnfield High School.

Many of you might not know, but I have social anxiety that makes me uncomfortable talking to people on the phone and answering doors, so speaking in front of a few hundred people is super easy for me.

A significant number of us, including parents and graduates, are nervous about the future, about college or kids leaving for college, and about how much our lives will change after graduation. However, right now is not the time to worry about the future. I want you all to take the time to pause and reflect on what you have accomplished up to this point. Your hard work and the struggles you have overcome are not to be underestimated. So give yourself a round of applause for these significant achievements.

As I pondered over the words I would share with you today, I initially considered a chronological approach. Yet, I quickly realized that the different years are not what truly matter. It’s not the distinction between our freshmen and senior years that holds significance, but rather the collective themes that have shaped our journey.

The first of these themes that have molded our high school experience is the action of taking initiative. High school started virtual for all of us, and cameras were often off during classes. This presented a unique challenge — no one will make you listen when the cameras are off. Now, I am not saying I never played video games during class, but this was our first chance to take control of our learning, and our quality of education. This will continue for the rest of our lives, as we are in control of our college experiences and life after college. That said, teachers took on an even larger initiative during our virtual classes. Learning to teach effectively over Zoom while staring at a sea of black screens was an enormous challenge for many teachers and required immense care.

The selfless dedication of teachers takes me to my second theme: Generosity and collaboration. Getting through school and challenging classes would never have been possible without the help of amazing friends, teachers, teammates and coaches. No matter who you are, managing every challenge thrown your way is quite daunting, so friends who are always there to help are indispensable. Being part of a team is crucial to success, but this doesn’t just refer to sports teams, but instead could be a theater group, a club or just a close group of friends. Within a group, others are constantly there to motivate you, and you reciprocate by encouraging them in return. A team win is far more satisfying than an individual success because you can share the joy.

But what about failures? As somebody with social anxiety, I can understand the fear of failing in front of a team, but I promise you, when you inevitably hit a roadblock, your friends and teammates are always there to pick you up.

That’s why I believe my third theme, taking chances, is vital to success and bettering yourself. I understand the fear that can come with facing a challenge, but I have come to learn that 99 percent of what you are worried about is all in your head. Most of the time, there is no real danger, as no one is looking for your flaws. I am on the diving team and had to dive in front of dozens of parents and teammates, where all the attention was on me. Although this made me uncomfortable initially, I realized that the only people there to judge my flaws were the literal judges giving me scores. Everyone else was just there to support me and have fun. I am not much of a metaphor guy, but like diving, there will always be a small group of people searching for your flaws. However, if you do not care about the score, the only thing on your mind is all the people there to support you.

I could never have reached this point without the help of all the people who supported me. As I stand here as class valedictorian, the most challenging thing for me to handle is finding balance. I have had to put in a lot of effort to get here and build a strong work ethic, but there are times when I wish I could have balanced my time a little differently. Spending time with friends and for yourself can be just as important as spending time on work. I hope to continue improving my ability to allocate my time, putting less emphasis on my grades over what else is important. Working hard is essential, but so is invaluable time with friends, family and for your interests.

For this reason, I make a request. To those of you planning to challenge yourselves in college, to parents who strive for their children’s academic excellence, I urge you to embrace balance as well. I’m not suggesting that you should avoid giving your best in studies and work, but sacrificing time with friends for a perfect grade is not the right path either. I ask that you be open to change, take initiative and be generous. I ask that you live your best life, respect yourself and appreciate the diverse paths others have taken. I understand this is a big request, but all of you here today have triumphed to reach this point, and all have the power to do this.

When I started this speech, I asked that you pause to reflect on your accomplishments instead of thinking about the future. Now, you can start thinking about the future again and hopefully take this advice to the next stage of your life. Congratulations, Class of 2024! You got this. Thank you.



Inside this week’s issue: LHS Class of 2024 Graduation Supplement