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5 video finalists talk back to 'you're not special' speech

Posted by Leslie Anderson  July 26, 2012 03:12 PM

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Five finalists have been named in a video contest asking entrants why – contrary to the “you’re not special” speech at Wellesley High's graduation – they actually are, um, special.

Wellesley Media Corporation launched the contest after the speech by English teacher David McCullough Jr. – and the TV channel’s video of it – went viral in June.

You can watch the five final videos here. The one that gets the most likes on YouTube by Aug. 1 will win.

“Hosting a video contest was something I had been thinking of for a long time,” said Erich Archer, creative programming director at Wellesley Media. “I didn’t know what to expect opening it up to the public like that.”

The terms of the contest were simple: submit a two-minute video that demonstrates “why you ARE, in fact, SPECIAL.”

Archer said that the company received about 20 eligible submissions, from as nearby as Needham to as far away as Serbia. He said only a couple of submissions were disqualified due to technical issues.

Everyone had a different take on the theme, Archer said. Submissions included highlight tapes of young athletes, video resumes, and even original songs.

The five finalists were chosen by the entire staff of Wellesley Media Corporation:

Ernestas Jasilionis is a young architect who created a stop motion video to showcase a blueprint of his talent. At the end of his video, he says, “I am a young architect. This is who I want to be.”

Lloyd Wayne Ambrose Jr. is a rapper and videographer in Memphis who co-owns a production company called Steve N Lloyd Productions. His video features him rapping about his “shining” multifaceted personality.

Slavomir Djuric is a 22-year-old Cosovo refugee in Serbia. In his video, he talks about his rough past and the many ways he has overcome it using his versatility and creativity. The video contains a slideshow of images and videos of Djuric playing tennis and volleyball, dancing, acting, and singing.

Dennis Barahona is a recent high school graduate and yo-yo enthusiast, a unique quality he says has come to define him. Barahona even created a yo-yo club at his high school to introduce others to his sport.

Heath Smith is a Navy rescue swimmer and Iraq war veteran, but insists that his profession is not what makes him special. It’s the relationships he has with his sister, father, and wife, and his ability to “bring joy to one person” that matters most to him.

The public can vote until August 1 by liking their favorite video on Youtube. The winner will be posted on Wellesley Media Corporation’s website.

The winner will receive a $500 prize, a "one-of-a-kind" trophy," and a broadcast of their video on The Wellesley Channel.

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 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."

Laura Franzini can be reached at
Evan Allen can be reached at

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