Somewhere, from Somebody, I picked this up!
A Not-so-humble Valedictorian SpeechAs the school year draws to a close, high school valedictorians are giving their inspirational speeches at graduation ceremonies across the country. But beneath their generous words of humility, I can’t help wondering if there lurks the desire to give a less than modest speech .......
Ladies and Gentlemen, Principal Payne, Teachers, Parents, My Fellow Students and their Parole Officers:
The school year has now concluded. To all my classmates who entered 12th grade (again) this year, you have certainly left a lasting impression on your teachers. I, on the other hand, have excelled in all academic areas.
Throughout the year, while most of you were vanquishing imaginary foes on your computer screens, I devoted my days to study and it has paid off. Soon, I will commence my Ph.D. at a top Ivy League college; you, however, are destined to become proficient at asking the question: "Paper or plastic, Ma’am?"
Let’s begin with the football jocks. While you were on the field practicing for a life-time of head and spinal injuries, I started a Day Trading Club in the computer center and made my first million before your coach could scream "torn rotator cuff." And while the rest of you were either cheerleading or boozing at post-game celebrations, I was dazzling the national Mathematics Association by quietly solving the square root of negative one.
Speaking of math, many of you emailed me throughout the year for help; but despite my best efforts, I soon realized the futility. I mean, how can you help people who fail to comprehend that integration has nothing to do with race relations; that the unit conversion of feet into centipedes is impossible; or that pumpkin pie has no relevance in geometry?
Another highlight for me was Economics Class, where I received the school’s competitive and highly coveted Madoff Prize for the assigned essay, "A History of Pyramid Schemes." Many of you who also entered a paper were jealous of my success, but were clearly foolish to follow my advice and focus your discussion on Egyptology. In all honesty, I believe most of you failed to grasp any of the fundamental course concepts, and wasted far too much time swapping baseball hats after that class on Cap-and-Trade principles.
Since my talents also extended to the Arts, I feel obliged to mention that the music director was especially impressed when I suggested introducing the concert harp to the school band. I should like to acknowledge little Abby Smith who marched with her harp as we played Wagner’s complete Ring Cycle during the 14-hour extended half-time at the homecoming game. Although the hernia and collapsed lung were regrettable, I understand she finishes physical therapy soon and is looking forward to completing 12th grade next year.
As for our other teachers, they have learned much from me, as well. Mr. Epstein-Barr, the soccer coach and physics teacher, now has a better understanding of quantum mechanics and no longer uses terms such as Schrödinger’s Ketchup, Einstein’s theory of evolution, walking the Planck Constant, or the Big Bangs Theory of hairdressing.
I also recall the brief battle of wits I had with our philosophy teacher during the first day of class, after telling him how I named our Jack Russell terrier, Bertrand, when I was just 5 years old. Unimpressed, he informed me "you are arrogant and a nobody," to which I promptly retorted: "Nobody is perfect; therefore, I am perfect." Disappearing in a puff of logic, he immediately retired and now hangs around toy stores assuring kids that Plato is not modeling clay. I was happy to lead the class for the remainder of the semester.
Finally, let me say that, aside from knowing all of you, my main disappointment this year was failing to become class president. At first, this stunned me, because I had pledged an exciting visit to the New York Stock Exchange for our senior trip, rather than that tedious Caribbean cruise the rest of you eventually took.
However, I was not surprised that Harry Thistlewaite was elected instead. After all, he did make promises that were impossible to keep, distorted the truth, and fabricated a collection of fallacious stories about his abilities and competence. Along these lines, I expect he will excel should he attempt to break into state politics.
Thank you, and don’t keep in touch.
Nick Thomas is a freelance writer. He has written features for the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, and the Christian Science Monitor. He can be reached at www.along-these-lines.com