LYNN — Wilberto Mercedes, the valedictorian for Lynn Classical High School’s class of 2023, told his fellow graduates that when fear creeps up on them as they move through life, they should use it as a “tool” and “mark of growth,” rather than let it tear them down.
“I see a group of students who survived school through a global pandemic and made us stronger, a group of students that organized and performed a walkout for justice, a group of students who have the world in the palm of their hands ready for them, waiting on them. Fear was present in every instance, and yet seems so futile and irrelevant in hindsight,” Mercedes said in his speech.
Mercedes and 430 other students graduated from Lynn Classical Thursday morning at Manning Field.
In Lynn Classical Principal Amy Dunn’s remarks to the students, she recited a quote from Brazilian soccer player Pelé.
“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice, and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do,” she read.
Students also heard from Mayor Jared Nicholson, state Sen. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn), Salutatorian Leilani Eth, and Vick Breedy.
Breedy is an entrepreneur and self-care advocate who has five self-published novels and two self-care journals. She was originally supposed to speak to last year’s graduating class, but got COVID-19 and had to cancel.
“I don’t believe in coincidences. I accepted that I was not supposed to be there,” Breedy said. “The speech that I worked so hard on and later threw away wasn’t for the class of 2022. I am here with you today, because I’m supposed to be here. My message is for you, the class of 2023.”
To the graduating seniors, she read a “rhyme scheme” she wrote called “Humanhood.”
“It wasn’t easy getting to this cap-and-gown moment. High school is over, feels good don’t it? I’m giving poetic hall passes to your next journey. Look at the person next to you and say ‘You are worthy,’” Breedy read.
Breedy told the students to take up space and learn how to read a room. She emphasized that their socioeconomic status “does not determine” their value.
“Serve others and give back to your community. What you give, you’ll get back, but it’s usually not from who you expected it from. When you’re blessed, pay it forward. Be the light illuminating close-minded groups,” Breedy said.