I Am The Wallflower Class Valedictorian And Tomorrow My Graduation Speech Is Going To Turn Some Heads

Photo by Vasily Koloda on Unsplash

Dan Stacy? I think he’s in my AP bio class.

Dan Stacy? Isn’t that the guy who built the robot that could read the PA announcements?

Dan Stacy? Didn’t he win some big award for debate or something?

Yes, yes, and yes, Michelle. I did all those damn things and then some. I’ve been quietly dominating this school for the past four years, showing absolutely no mercy, academically speaking, all while balancing extracurriculars and remaining dedicated to our community at large. Is 2,000 hours of community service a lot? Eat your heart out, Malcolm Gladwell.

Tomorrow is the culmination of my storied high school career and I intend to go out with 10 octaves and a couple of high fives. You see, while there has been no shortage of scholastic triumphs over the past four years, my social life has left something to be desired. No offense, Laurie. So when it comes time to give my graduation commencement speech tomorrow, I, Daniel Phillip Stacy, am going to leave it all on the table. Hey, I guess he was pretty cool after all. Damn, Dan Stacy can get it. Funniest speech ever. Right on all three counts, Tiffany. So with the vim and vigor I might typically attack a fundraising event for the swim team or an all night cram sesh on Candide, I’m going to straight up own this speech.

How do I open this thing? Easy. I start with a quotation, but nothing tame or lame like a line from Mary Oliver’s The Summer Day. Nah, I hit them with something edgy and divisive to wake them and shake up. I’m thinking either something contemporary like a lyric from a Megan Thee Stallion joint or I go old school and anti-establishment with a line from an early Sam Kinison record. Either way, they’re shocked into submission. What’s this guy doing? What’s he going to say next? Sit back, Angela. You’re in good hands. From there the choice is simple. I do some light and respectful roasting of the staff and faculty. Just playful and fun, nothing that’s going to hurt any feelings or cause any ill-will. I might take a jab at Mr. Willits for drawing up new blocking schemes for the football team during downtime in Algebra or make a dig about Ms. Lynch being chronically late for her own classes. Just silly stuff that everyone recognizes, but few have the courage to say out loud. I will not, however, make any jokes about Mr. Dandrige and Mrs. Vickers’ affair. After Mr. Dandrige’s wife, Leila, drew that big scarlet letter in lipstick on the windshield of Mrs. Vickers’ Volvo last semester, the cat’s been out of the bag on that one. That’s low hanging fruit with real life implications. I’m looking for laughs, not trial separations.

After the roast is out of the oven and I’ve got all 342 seniors eating out of the palm of my hand, I’ll go earnest with things for a bit, but not too earnest. I’ll talk about how this senior class has been like a tight-knit family these past 12 years (not really true but it’s an easy analogy) and share some fond memories from football games, talent shows, and dances. You know, the shit people get really sentimental about as time goes on. I’ll share somewhere between 4–7 memories, basically however long it takes to have the entire room in tears. Once I’m there, I’ll return to the family thing and I’ll say that no matter where you go and what you do, you can always come home to your family. I mean, I doubt I’ll come back too often, but people like hearing that they can. Wow, he’s really poetic. That was beautiful, Dan. Thanks, Becky. I meant every word of it.

From there, I’ll make a joke about when Ray Strumster’s pants fell down during the Homecoming game last year. It’s easy, but it’s inclusion is basically expected whenever anyone makes a major speech about our class. And Ray’s a good sport about it. Then I’ll close out with a choice quote. I’ll probably opt for “Lose Your Dreams and You Will Lose Your Mind” from The Rolling Stones’ classic “Ruby Tuesday” or some other populist lyric about pursuing your goals. And at that point, odds are, even I will be won over by the speech. All members of the senior class, faculty and staff, and family members in the audience will rise to their feet and thunderous applause will echo throughout the auditorium. I’ll graciously nod in recognition as I step down from the podium, knowing that I won hearts and minds and cemented my legacy.

After the ceremony, I’ll put on my tinted aviators and pose for photos with the other graduates. Walking to my car, I’ll hear a voice from behind me.

Great speech, Dan. You brought down the house!

I’ll thank him.

You coming to the party tonight?

I smile.

Yeah, Jeff. I think I will.

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