The following is a copy of the essay read by Gregory Lyons -- the self-proclaimed "math nerd" and "lanky dude in a blue dress" who graduated from Medfield High School on Sunday, June 2, 2013.
Lucky Thirteen, by Senior Essayist Gregory Lyons (MHS '13)
Good afternoon, administrators, faculty, relatives, friends, and class of thirteen. My name is Greg Lyons, and as an unabashed math nerd, I can say for sure that thirteen truly is a special number. Mathematically speaking, it is a Fibonacci number, one of only three known Wilson prime numbers, and the smallest prime whose digits can be reversed to form another prime.
Now, none of that has any relevance whatsoever to the rest of my speech, but when I was struggling to write an opening, I did what any good high school student would do – I turned to Wikipedia. Just so I could check out the “sources at the end”, of course.
Aside from its mathematical properties, the number thirteen has fascinated our society for a long time. You might be familiar with movies like the horror film Friday the 13th, or perhaps one of my favorite Disney Channel Original Movies, The Thirteenth Year. Yet the big question remains: Is thirteen a lucky number, or an unlucky number? Supporters from the unlucky side would observe that hotels often skip the thirteenth floor, or that the number even has its own phobia. But if anyone out there actually has triskaidekaphobia, I am here today to change your mind.
Despite all the superstitions regarding thirteen as unlucky, Grammy-award winning artist Taylor Swift considers thirteen to be her lucky number, and it is hard to disagree with her. I have recently been informed that she writes it on her hand before every concert performance for good luck, and, frankly, if it’s good enough for T-Swift, then it’s good enough for me.
And you know what, class of 2013? I think we have been pretty lucky. We are a class of true survivors. We survived the 2012 apocalypse. We survived the swine flu. We survived graffiti attacks that desecrated our school walls. We survived the house project, and the LARP, and an entire sixth grade year without a legitimate field trip. We survived the “Sophomore Revolution.”
Yet while our luck is indisputable, my fellow classmates, we are more than just lucky. It wasn’t luck that brought state championships to Boys’ Lacrosse and Girls’ Lacrosse, Soccer, and Basketball. It wasn’t luck that won numerous honors in the Boston Globe Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. It wasn’t luck that raised thousands of dollars through fundraisers like the candy cane sale and Putting for Patients. It wasn’t luck that made our Student Council a Gold Council of Excellence, or brought countless awards to our music programs. And although they did remind us to “tell ourselves how lucky we are” in Seussical, it wasn’t luck that put on such spectacular Drama Club performances. The list could go on, but you get the point.
All of these successes required hard work, determination, passion, and integrity, things that luck had nothing to do with. As we look on to the future and the rest of our lives, we will not be able to count on luck to guide us through the obstacle course that lies ahead.
Honestly, I’m not worried. Over the last four years, we have had the pleasure of learning at a first-rate institution that is not only the best high school on South Street, but the best high school in Medfield. Seriously though, I doubt that many high school students across the country can say that they have received a better education than us. We have read literature from around the world. We have derived and solved countless equations and seen the magic of science at work. We have studied events covering the majority of recorded human history, dating as far back as Mr. Shapiro’s first year of teaching.
More than just acquiring material knowledge, though, we have truly learned the important things. We learned that you can never rely on any good cookies being left after third lunch. We also learned that there is no greater relief than walking into a classroom and seeing that Marty is your substitute teacher. Finally, we learned that trying to get into the school library without a pass during fifth period is harder than convincing the secret service to let you break into the White House.
After four years, we have come to love Medfield High School as a community more than just as a place of learning. I believe it was the rap artist Kendrick Lamar who said “You can take me out of the hood, but you can’t take the hood out of me.” And even as our paths take us far from 88R South Street, we will always have a special place in our hearts for the home of the Warriors.
Our learning experiences at Medfield High have made us the people we are today. After thirteen years with many of you, I am impressed at what we have all become. I see a talented and motivated group of individuals, each of whom is going to make a positive contribution to this world. I see future doctors, future lawyers, future scientists, and maybe even some future writers of clichéd speeches.
Class of 2013, we will be lucky, but it is not because numerical superstition says so. It is because we will make our own luck. We now have the education, the freedom, and the spirit to make our lives whatever we want them to be. Graduation means that it is time for us to end this chapter of our lives and begin a new one. And graduation doesn’t have to be all depressing and sad – graduation is happy, and exciting, and it happens to be the title of my second favorite Kanye West album. I just hope it isn’t a bad omen that my number one favorite is titled “The College Dropout”.
I would like to thank everyone who made Medfield High School everything I wanted it to be. Thank you to all of the teachers, for giving us a wealth of invaluable knowledge and for making learning enjoyable. Thank you to all of the administrators, especially Mr. Maguire, for making this whole experience possible and, more importantly, for giving us plenty of snow days this winter. Thank you to all of the parents for putting up with us for eighteen years and for raising us in such a great place. Thank you to all of my friends for being there when I needed you and for inspiring me on a daily basis. Finally, thank you to all of my Twitter followers, no explanation needed.
I will conclude with a quote from one of my favorite movies, Wall-E: “I don’t want to survive, I want to live.” Class of 2013, we are the survivors, and we may have been through a lot, but there is plenty more to come. I hope that each and every one of you finds what it means for you to truly live, rather than to simply survive.
So, I suppose this is where I would wish all of you good luck in the rest of your lives, but come on – you’re the class of lucky thirteen, it’s not like you need it. And besides, if you’re going to be successful in life, it will be because you earn it, not because some lanky dude in a blue dress wished you good luck at your high school graduation. So instead I’ll say thank you for an unforgettable thirteen years, congratulations, and I’ll see y’all at the party tonight! Thank you.
- Congratulations Medfield Class of 2013
- MHS Student Scholarships Awarded on May 30
- MHS Class Day Awards Given on May 31
- Graduation Advice: Wear Sunscreen and More