By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — Pinkerton Academy’s top two students hope to make a difference in the world once they leave their high school classrooms.
Both are already on their way to making that happen.
Valedictorian Dylan Mahalingam and salutatorian Patrick Doolittle already have a big head start on success. At commencement Monday, both told fellow classmates to aim high and reach for those stars.
Dylan, 17, is no stranger to making a difference and striving to help others.
He is the founder of Lil’MDGs, an international youth empowerment organization galvanizing the collective power of youth to forward the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.
He has won numerous awards for his volunteerism and commitment to helping children in need, including being named one of 25 most powerful and influential young people in the world by Youth Service America and The Huffington Post.
Patrick has also earned many awards and honors at Pinkerton, including being named a national finalist in the American Legion’s Constitutional Oratorical Speech Contest. He represented Pinkerton at Boys State and was also a national delegate.
During his address Monday, Dylan told fellow classmates he truly only got to know a small group of them well, but made many connections not only in friendships but in learning and those who inspired him to do well.
“When it comes down to it, I’ve met a pretty accomplished bunch of people,” he said. “I’m amazed at what the people I know have done over this time, just as I know that all of you feel the same way about the people you know.”
Dylan said society is like a giant social environment, an intricate web and network of interactions and relationships filled with friends, enemies, lovers, rivals, acquaintances and so much more.
“It’s beautiful to think about, as though there’s a web connecting us all, with strings tying individual people together,” he said. “There are so many of those strings in the web that are yet to be tied, and there are so many that will eventually be cut.”
Dylan thanked everyone at Pinkerton who helped him make those connections and ties in his own personal web in high school.
“All the strings are tying us together into the beautiful network that is the human society, and the Pinkerton Academy Class of 2013 should be proud to be a part of it,” he said. “We’re here to do what we will with this web, tying and cutting our relationships over the years of our lives. Together, we as people, can change the world, making it a better place for the generations of the future.”
Patrick told classmates that both success and failure are part of the Pinkerton experience, and both should be celebrated as part of growing up and holding on to dreams.
“With all this coming to an end, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about promise as it relates to success and failure,” he said. “We only truly fail when we stop believing that we can succeed. Failure is settling for less than what you originally defined as success.”
Dylan, son of Krithika Mahalingam and Mark Irvinti, and will attend Worcester Polytechnic Institute to study robotics engineering. Patrick is the son of Wendy and Peter Doolittle. He will attend Yale in the fall to study political philosophy and economics.