Aidan Chaffin’s graduation speech

JUNE 24, 2017

Aidan Chaffin delivered “The ‘Perfect’ Graduation Speech” during graduation ceremonies today.

He was introduced by mathematics teacher Lynn Greene.

Good morning and welcome to all the parents, faculty, staff, Mr. Bednarek, Mrs. Swartz and the Board of Education. And of course, congratulations to the graduating class of 2017. Look at where we are, graduation. This is the time to look back at every challenge we fought and overcame.You should all be very proud of yourselves and thankful for each other.

My most recent challenge has been writing a well thought out speech, that appeals to everyone in the audience, is concise and inspirational, and above all captures the complex emotion in the room. Which should also be creative, might I add. But being creative is a challenge, especially when writing something that must also have depth. I decided the easiest way to go about writing the “perfect” graduation speech was not to be artsy or verbose, but, it would just be easier for everybody if I adopted my new best friend, the cliche. According to, all perfect speeches first, start out with an inspirational and witty metaphor about our high school journey. Second, they have a smooth transition to the introduction of a deep question about the voyage of life. And finally, I will use the perfect inspirational quote to solve all our problems. Or at least get pretty close. I will now introduce my metaphor.

So, here are a few fun facts about lobsters. Lobsters grow constantly, throughout their whole life. However, every now and then a lobster reaches a point where it has finally outgrown its shell. This triggers an important transitional period called molting. During this time a lobster is most vulnerable and must learn to adjust to its new life until it has regrown its bigger shell. Most lobsters hide under a rock until their new shell is complete. Okay, so maybe there are better metaphors to describe the journey, struggle and resolution of our high school careers.

But, there are a lot of things we can all learn from lobsters.

Like a lobster we are no more than mere specks in this big blue ocean.

Like a lobster, we are vulnerable and don’t have a clear idea on how to live our lives.

Like a lobster, we are leaving the comfort of our shells and venturing out into a big, scary, and sometimes heartless world, alone.

I would like to ask you all to take a brief moment to reflect on some questions. What are the shells that we are losing, or outgrowing, now that we are done with high school? Then, how will we go about forming our new shells. Now is a critical time to build our shells with trustworthy friendships, honest morals, and big dreams of the future. Because like lobsters, we are and will always be growing. But how can a little lobster succeed in such a big, scary and sometimes heartless ocean? Unfortunately, the answer is not to hide under a rock. We have to be a little more bold. Do not worry, I assure you all the answers will come in part three.

The questions we all are facing now are very big, very important and can be very stressful. “How do I find a successful path in this giant ocean with much bigger fish and dangerous predators?”,“How do I find true happiness?”, “How should I live my life?”

Like every other transitional period in our lives, we will have to learn to adjust and learn how to grow. We all, struggle with these big questions. But if you really look around, no one has the answers on how you should act or what your purpose is. You cannot look to others to tell you about yourself. Though I can’t tell you the answers, I can give you all a hint.

Oh look at the time, it’s time for the message. You have all been so patient so, here is the key to a good life. But first I would like to talk about Dr. Kent M Keith and the paradoxical commandments. Dr. Kent graduated from Harvard and was a motivational speaker for high schools and businesses. However he noticed a common pattern in the responses from his listeners. Here are some of his words. “I saw a lot of idealistic young people go out into the world to do what they thought was right, and good, and true, only to come back a short time later, discouraged, or embittered, because they got negative feedback, or nobody appreciated them, or they failed to get the results they had hoped for.” In response to this problem, Dr. Kent wrote the paradoxical commandments.
Here are a few of them.

“People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.”

“The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.”

“Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.”

“Give the world the best you have and you will get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway.”

So, graduating class of 2017, parents, teachers, Proctor’s staff, and guests. I hope you all got something from this. The world is like a big, scary, unfamiliar ocean which will not go easy on lobsters. But have confidence, an open mind, and pride in yourself.

So here we are. The conclusion. The ending. As we all leave here today, and go out into the big wide blue. Walk with confidence in your step and be proud of who you are and what you can do. This class has some of the smartest, most creative, most passionate, most inspiring, and most dedicated people I have ever met. There will be failure, discouragement, and tall mountains but never forget to forgive others, to do good, to be honest and frank, and give the world the very best you have, anyways. Thanks again.

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