Competition to present the annual Faculty Speech at Wellesley High School’s commencement this June has heated up in the wake of English teacher David McCullough’s “You’re Not Special” speech from a year ago, which spawned a viral video, crushed our Web site with traffic and rewarded McCullough with a sabbatical and book deal.
Many initially characterized McCullough’s speech as a student smackdown (or as one publication put it: “Boston Teacher Destroys His Students in Graduation Speech“), though as the teacher went on to explain over and over, his words were really meant to encourage students to be selfless and to make the world a better place by helping and thinking of others.
Either way, McCullough’s speech rocketed him to worldwide fame — even to the point where his father, the famed historian and author David McCullough, is said to be mulling his own Wellesley High commencement speech in an effort to wrest control of his name recognition back from his son.
But the leading candidate for this year’s Faculty Speech, according to school officials, is one from another English department member tentatively titled “You’re Not Special — and Neither are Your Parents,” in which moms and dads of students from the Class of 2013 — like those parents of the Class of 2012 who smugly nodded their heads every time McCullough last year told students they weren’t special — are given a comeuppance.
Though another teacher, a disciple of Wellesley’s Open Circle program and who acknowledges having been raised on ABC After School Specials, has taken the opposite tack of McCullough, reassuring the Class of 2013 that “You are Very, Very Special.”
One other submitted speech, tentatively titled, “Well isn’t that Special?” has already been nixed given its controversial religious message.
Students reportedly are also getting into the act. One self-described “spray-tanned prom queen — to use Mr. McCullough’s terminology” — has submitted a speech titled “Yes, We Are Like So Special” and will accompany it with a singing performance that she emphasizes wouldn’t have been possible without years of private voice lessons. “My sincere hope is that this will go viral on YouTube so that many wonderful people across the world can share in my extraordinary fortune and find inspiration from it.”
Wellesley Public Schools have also announced that Special K cereal has signed on as a major sponsor for this year’s commencement ceremony to help defray costs of students’ caps, gowns and personal videographers.
For a sneak peek at some of this year’s possible commencement speeches, click here.