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Wellesley's 'You're not special' graduation speech inspires contest

Posted by Evan Allen  June 14, 2012 08:10 AM

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The now-famous “You’re Not Special” graduation speech that went viral after its delivery to Wellesley High School graduates on June 1 has inspired its very own video contest, sponsored by Wellesley Media Corporation.

At Wellesley High’s commencement ceremony, English teacher David McCullough Jr. told the 2012 class, “You are not special. You are not exceptional.

“Contrary to what your U9 soccer trophy suggests, your glowing seventh grade report card, despite every assurance of a certain corpulent purple dinosaur, that nice Mister Rogers and your batty Aunt Sylvia, no matter how often your maternal caped crusader has swooped in to save you… you’re nothing special.”

The terms of the contest are simple: submit a two-minute video that demonstrates “why you ARE, in fact, SPECIAL.” Finalists will be posted to the Media Corporation’s Facebook page, and whoever receives the most likes will win.

The very special winner will receive a $500 prize, a “ONE-OF-A-KIND trophy,” and a broadcast of their video on The Wellesley Channel.

The idea for a video contest had been kicking around Wellesley Media Corporation for a while, said Erich Archer, Creative Programming Director, who organized the contest. When McCullough’s speech went viral, Archer said, it seemed like the perfect hook.

“It’s not really a commentary on the speech,” he said. “We’re in the public eye for the time being, and we have a project we wanted to open to the public, so we decided to time it with the popularity of this speech.”

Indeed, the speech has over 1 million hits on YouTube. The Los Angeles Times editorialized on the speech. It was featured on NBC's Today show and on Fox News and in a column Thursday in the Globe.

The point of McCullough’s speech was that students should dream big and work hard not for the accolades, but for the deep satisfaction of living deliberately and with passion.

“As you commence, then, and before you scatter to the winds, I urge you to do whatever you do for no reason other than you love it and believe in its importance,” he said.

"You're not special," he said at the end of the speech, "Because everyone is."

So go ahead and make that video – but don’t do it for the prize.

Submissions should be emailed to erich@wellesleymedia.org. The deadline is July 15, and finalists will be posted to the Facebook page on July 20. The winner will be announced on Aug. 1.

Evan Allen can be reached at evan.allen@globe.com

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