Category Archives: Teenagers

Winslow Park Plea: Dirt Bikers, Clean Up After Yourselves!

Deb Howland-Murray calls herself “a portrait artist who benefited tremendously from growing up in Westport’s artistic environment. After a sojourn for college and adventures, I returned to Westport. I have lived here for the past 35 years.” 

She writes:

Each spring people pour out of their houses and into nature, shedding months of cold the way a snake sheds its skin.

This year brings new significance to this outdoor migration: a heightened longing for beauty and distraction in the spring of COVID-19.

Maybe that’s why so many people flock to Winslow Park. They come not only to walk dogs, but to enjoy its 28 acres of sunny fields and dense woods. They are parents with children riding scooters and bikes, joggers, couples sitting in conversation on the park’s benches, and teenagers anxious to try their skills on the dirt bike jumps in one of the forested, trail-laced sections of the park.

The Winslow Park dirt bike course. (Photo/Deb Howland-Murray)

Winslow is a treasure. Now more than ever, it’s a breath of fresh air literally and figuratively. I’ve watched it come to life this spring, delighted in April’s little purple flowers, the massive trees leafing out in May, the fields that now read yellow with buttercups.

These are such a sharp contrast to the trash, broken glass and empty vape boxes carpeting the dirt bike section of the park.

Vape boxes litter the dirt bike area. (Photo/Deb Howland-Murray)

I like to watch the teenagers barreling down the course’s steep hill and becoming airborne on the ascent. But it saddens me that the fun is coupled with such disrespect for the surrounding environment, one that’s dotted with wonderful examples of human creativity as well as natural beauty.

The dirt bike course was created by enterprising teenagers, and adjacent to it there is a remarkable lean-to someone made from large branches. Next to the lean-to, a picnic table waits invitingly in the shade. I’ve seen people meditating there.

But who would want to stop there now? Who could bring their small children to play among the empty cans and vape boxes? Which paw will be the first to be sliced by glass shards? When will an unknowing puppy be drawn to the scent of food on a snack wrapper and make the unfortunate mistake of swallowing it?

Trash left on tables. The lean-to is in the back. (Photo/Deb Howland-Murray)

Don’t get me wrong. I love teenagers; I raised 5 of them. An avid skier and hunter-jumper rider, I’m all for the excitement of speed and the joy of flying through the air. I want the kids to have fun in the park. They seem like good kids, wearing their helmets and respectfully keeping a physical distance when they meet others on the trails. They’re polite.

I’m happy that they have a safe, outdoor place to congregate in small numbers at such a difficult and disappointing time to be a teenager. And I’m not interested in passing judgment on what they might or might not be drinking or smoking. That’s up to their parents.

But speaking directly to you, young people: Nature is not your trash can. The park is there for all to enjoy. Now especially, we need to add what we can to each other’s enjoyment.

The Winslow Park lean-to. (Photo/Tracy Porosoff)

Please, kiddos: Create whatever mess you want in your rooms – I certainly did. Just bring a bag with you to the park, collect your garbage and drop it in the trash cans when you exit.

We dog owners do the same. Believe me, collecting your garbage is not nearly as gross as what we are collecting and ferrying to those cans! But what if we didn’t? What if the area you enjoy was full of the kind of waste no one wants to step in?

So, c’mon. Litter-ally, place your drop in the massive bucket of consideration we need right now. It’s not too much to ask.

COVID Roundup: No Camp Compo Or RECing Crew; Antibodies And Masks; More


One more casualty of COVID-19: Westport Parks & Recreation’s long-running, popular Camp Compo and RECing Crew programs.

Parks & Rec director Jen Fava says:

“Due to the many restrictions placed upon camps by the state, the limited number of children that could be served, limitations of our facilities, the challenge of social distancing, and the new unknowns related to Pediatric Inflammatory Multisystem Syndrome, we are concerned about our ability to provide these programs in a safe manner. Additionally, they would not be the camp experiences that our campers and parents have come to expect.

1st Selectman Jim Marpe adds, “This was not an easy decision to make, but after consulting with staff and the Westport Weston Health District, we believe this is the right decision for our specific programs.  The health and safety of our participants and staff, and the larger community, is our foremost concern. In light of that and the uncertainties related to the Pediatric Inflammatory Multisystem Syndrome, there was too much health risk as it pertains to these programs.”

Other Parks & Rec summer programs are being evaluated and restructured to meet requirements. Information will be provided as soon as they are finalized.


This weekend on Hillspoint Road, Peter Maloney asked a 40-something woman to please use a mask as she walked near him.

“Not a problem! I have the antibodies,” she chirped.

Of course, Peter — and most Westporters — don’t have “the antibodies.”

Earth to woman: It’s not always about you.


And finally … the holiday’s over. Back to work (from home)!

Quaranteen: Young Voices Heard, In Challenging Times

Tori Seiden’s COVID story begins: “It’s been 86 days since I’ve seen my boyfriend.”

She’s a gifted writer. Clearly, calmly, she describes their “long distance during social distancing” relationship. The couple — in their early 20s — go on “virtual dates.” They paint, cook, watch movies, work out, meditate, write journals, learn Spanish and design a dream Minecraft house together, though hundreds of miles apart.

Tori says the experience has taught them a lot about themselves, and each other. It’s brought them closer. They realize if they can get through this, they can surmount any obstacle.

“Of course I want to see my boyfriend,” Tori writes. “But we recognize it isn’t safe right now. So we do our best every day to make the best of things.”

It’s a mature, insightful perspective — and not the kind of story you read every day.

Most coronavirus coverage focuses on case numbers, testing, nursing homes, the economy, parenting, politics, and reopening states. They’re important parts of the pandemic picture, sure.

But what’s missing are young voices.

The Quaranteen Collection fills that void.

The crisply designed, well-written website aims to foster empathy and community — and empower — teens and young adults. Filled with stories of loss, hope, struggle, strength and growth, it’s an outlet for both self-reflection and connection with others.

Quaranteen is a safe, honest space, positive and uplifting despite the harrowing circumstances. Topics range from the impact of distance learning on special education (the writer’s brother is autistic) and the importance of self-care, to the emotions of going back to college — after weeks in isolation — to pack up a dorm room, and leave for good.

One student wrote about the transition back from college dorm life to her childhood home.

“Writing is a powerful tool that offers solace for both reader and writer,” the Quaranateen founders tell teens and 20-somethings. “In these uncertain times, your voice can make a difference in someone’s day and be a source of meaning for yourself. Share your story today; be the hope of tomorrow.”

Besides looking for young Westport writers (click here), the site has a local connection. This spring, a freshman took a writing course that showed him the cathartic power of communication. His professor grew up in Westport.

As his college closed in mid-March, the student and his friends talked about ways they could help other young adults during the coming months. They realized that the reflective process of writing could be invaluable. The idea of a submission-based site was born.

Quaranteen’s founders know that their peers experience a welter of emotions in the best of times. A pandemic makes things exponentially worse.

In the best of times too, young voices are often unheard or dismissed. As the world grapples with a deadly virus, young adults themselves may feel that their problems do not, or should not, matter.

But those experiences and problems are still real. Now — thanks to Quaranteen — anyone facing them can write about them.

And be heard.

A screenshot of the Quaranteen home page.

How To Survive A Quarantine? With Staples Players!

When “Seussical” was shut down just hours before opening night — collateral damage from the COVID-induced closing of all Westport schools — dozens of Staples Players were heartbroken. Audiences never saw their months of hard work.

Seniors were particularly devastated. The spring show is a capstone to their 4-year careers. On closing night they’re introduced individually, celebrated, and take well-deserved bows.

There’s an old theater saying: “The show must go on.” For over 60 years Players’ has honored that tradition. They’re not about to let a little pandemic stop them.

The show is not “Seussical.” But this Saturday and next, the nationally recognize troupe presents a special event. It’s a gift to the community — and a tribute to the 2020 seniors.

“10 Ways to Survive Life in a Quarantine” was written by Don Zolidis. The playwright specializes in shows for high school groups. Several years ago, Players staged the world premiere of his musical “Angie” at Toquet Hall.

This spring, Zolidis recognized the need for a play that schools could produce virtually, while maintaining social distance. Very quickly, directors David Roth and Kerry Long got to work.

They invited all their 12th grade veteran members to participate. Fifteen are acting; a few others are helping behind the scenes, like stage manager Karalyn Hood.

Thirteen additional cast members, spanning all grades, bring the total “on stage” to 28.

“10 Ways” includes over 25 comic vignettes, dealing with life in isolation. One is about staging musicals with pets; others cover taking up a new sport (and thinking you’re good), perfecting the art of laziness — you get the idea.

Some sketches will be performed live (fingers crossed). Others will be pre-recorded videos. Seniors Sam Laskin and Tobey Patton host the show — and offer live commentary throughout.

For the past month, rehearsals were held via Google Meet. Three student assistant directors also held individual meetings with actors.

The concept is new for Players. So is the technology. Tech consultant (and alum) Dave Seltzer is advising on livestreaming; fellow Player alum Michael Dodd  helps.

“We’re working through our live run-throughs,” the directors say. “But we’re charting new ground. What a crazy world!”

The show is broken into 2 parts. The first will be broadcast this Saturday (May 23, 7 p.m.) The second is set for the same time the following Saturday (May 30). There are “encore” performances (taped) at 6 p.m. on the Tuesday following each performance (May 26, June 2).

Tickets are free for the live and encore shows (click here; if you want tickets to a Tuesday “encore,” click the Saturday prior to it).

However, Roth and Long encourage donations of any amount. The cancellation of “Seussical” (and the spring Black Box production, “Noises Off”) has hurt considerably.

That — and with this clever new show — are 2 ways by which Staples Players can survive life in a quarantine.

NOTE: After your purchase, you’ll receive an email with printable “tickets.” Ignore that — but save the other email, which includes a link to access the show. 

Technical questions about the livestream? Email shsplayers@westportps.org. Box office questions? Email sptickets@gmail.com.

Despite Shutdown, Y’s Unified Sports Program Thrives

The COVID-induced closure of the Westport Weston Family YMCA is tough on many members who miss their regular gym and swim workouts, spin and yoga classes, and much more.

It’s especially hard on the few dozen young people engaged in the Y’s Unified Program, which pairs special needs athletes with partners. Led by Danette Meigel and staff, they join in weekly basketball, swimming and track practices, and compete in tournaments and meets throughout the year.

The Unified Program brings competition, structure, friendship and joy to all involved. For many special needs youngsters — and their dedicated volunteers — it’s a highlight of their lives.

In late March, as schools, sports and almost everything else — including the Y –shut down, head youth volunteer Oliver Clachko contacted Danette. He wanted to bring the Unified athletes together through Zoom meetings.

Danette loved the idea. Quickly, her staff devised a plan.

Every Saturday since early April, Danette, coaches Marta Taddeo, Christophe Esposito and Shannon Connors, and teen volunteers including Oliver, Max Udell, Ryan Weil, Layne Yacenda, Julian Frucht and Hugh Hutchinson, have led virtual Unified basketball practices for their special needs friends.

Oliver Clachko leading a virtual basketball practice, from home.

They begin by socializing — much needed by all, in these times of isolation. Next come warm-ups and simple basketball drills. None require a hoop; most don’t even use a basketball.

They finish by asking the young athletes what drill or exercise they want to do next week.

From only one attendee the first week, the number has grown steadily. It’s a steady presence — but that’s not all. This Sunday (May 17), the Y Unified Program begins a dry land swim session.

Also in the works: a Unified Sports game night (with pizza!), and “virtual Special Olympics” (a 5K run/walk in your neighborhood or on a treadmill) in June.

The Westport Y Unified Program is very special, for sure.

For more information or to volunteer, email dmeigel@westporty.org.

Screen shot of a Unified Sports Zoom session.

COVID Can’t Stop Staples Senior Interns

When then-Staples High School principal John Dodig proposed a springtime Senior Internship program more than a decade ago, many people were wary.

Teachers did not want to “lose” students. Students did not want to “work” in the middle of senior slump. And what businesses, everyone wondered, would want to hire slumping seniors during beautiful May weather?

All those worries were unfounded. As the Senior Internship grew, teachers realized the benefits in having slumping students out of their classes. Students were energized by having real jobs and real responsibilities before heading to college. All kinds of businesses — retail stores, ad agencies, financial service firms, restaurants, tech companies, theaters, engineering companies, non-profits, media firms, medical offices, farms, schools, you name it — saw the value in interns.

From modest beginnings, Staples’ program exploded. Now, nearly every senior eligible — those without attendance or grade issues — participates. It’s one of the most popular, highly anticipated parts of the entire high school experience.

From a wealth management firm …

So what happens when a pandemic shuts school — along with nearly every business that already committed to having an intern?

Fortunately, not much. Despite all the uncertainty of the past few weeks, Staples’ program is on track to begin later this month.

Internship coordinators Michelle Howard and Denise Pearl had spent months preparing for this spring. Beginning in September they’d contacted the more than 400 sites in their database.

They’d met individually with 450-plus seniors, describing options and opportunities. (About 100 seniors design their own internships each year.)

… to Wakeman Town Farm …

In mid-March, everyone was looking ahead. Internships would begin as soon as AP tests ended. Students would spend 5 hours a day for 4 weeks at their sites. They’d write weekly self-reflections, and check in regularly with faculty mentors. The “real world” was about to begin.

Then the real “real world” intruded. COVID-19 upended everything.

For a couple of weeks, Howard and Pearl wondered how to salvage the program. As they fielded questions from students and sites, they realized many people wanted it to continue, in whatever ways were feasible.

The directors spoke with Staples senior class assistant principal Meghan Ward. Soon, the idea of “remote internships” took place.

… to a catering company …

Though some sites were closed, and others not conducive to working with interns, many were. Attorneys, shop owners, graphic designers, hedge fund managers — they said, “we’ll make it work.” Through teleconferences, creative ideas and other experiences, they vowed to give their interns valuable life experiences.

For example, a preschool said their intern could create an online “graduation ceremony” for their tots. The Senior Center said they’d like their intern to devise a “virtual tour” of the artwork on its walls. A realtor wants help with social media.

Even New York’s Museum of Natural History promised to keep its intern on.

“They’re all really going above and beyond,” Howard says admiringly.

… to a builder of energy-efficient luxury homes …

Of course, not every site is able to accommodate its interns. So Pearl and Howard came up with 2 other concepts.

One is a “Do It Yourself Experience.”

“Get creative,” they say. “Design and develop a project from beginning to end.” For example, seniors could:

  • Create a business that could help the world recover from COVID-19
  • Write a book (poetry, short stories, children’s) about this crisis
  • Paint, draw, take photos, or produce a video about it
  • Build or construct something
  • Read extensively, and share what they learned
  • Research, or talk to experts on a subject like traditional school vs. distance learning; the emotional toll of isolation, or the effects of the coronavirus on an industry, or on social media.

The other option is an interview series, with at least 3 people. Students can then make a video, blog or podcast on subjects like careers, multi-generational voices, education, or any topic of their choice.

“It’s not the Senior Internship in its usual form,” Pearl admits. “But these are not usual times.”

The Class of 2020 has lost a lot: prom. Graduation. Even senioritis.

But they won’t lost their internships.

… and Harbor Watch, the Staples Internship Program is a highlight of senior year.

“I’m really proud of this program — and these kids,” Howard says.

“It’s a great experience being around 400-plus teenagers. It’s terrific working with the sites. We’ve made some great relationships.

“And those that can’t host interns remotely, they all say they want to be part of it next year.”

NOTE: Any business or individual interested in sponsoring an intern should email shsinternship@westportps.org as soon as possible.

This is not a 2020 photo. For many years, Staples interns have worked at hospitals, medical clinics and doctors’ offices.

WWPT: COVID Did Not Kill The Radio Star

When school closed in March, radio production teacher Geno Heiter wondered how he could keep WWPT-FM on the air.

The answer was right in his basement. The longtime musician had plenty of equipment there. His students were used to broadcasting remotely, for sports.

In a matter of days, 90.3 was back on the air.

Heiter oversees every show from his Milford “control room.” They take place during regular class time, and in afternoons and evenings too.  Students — er, the on-air talent — see each other via Google Hangouts. They plan their general talk, sports talk and music shows that way, communicating and improvising and entertaining in real time. If you didn’t know it, you’d think they were all hanging out together at 70 North Avenue.

Behind the scenes — virtually — as the staff collaborates on a WWPT-FM broadcast.

And make no mistake: These teenagers are good. They’ve snagged guests like Monday Night Football and Olympics sportscaster Mike Tirico, and New York Knicks and ESPN announcer Mike Breen.

Tomorrow (Friday, May 8, 7:30 p.m.) they’ll chat with Stephen A. Smith, host of ESPN’s “First Take.”

“I get the ball rolling. They run with it,” Heiter says modestly.

To see (and hear) how well they run, click here.

WWPT-FM advisor and radio production teacher Geno Heiter, in his Milford basement “control room.”

Managing Emotions As The Pandemic Continues

Dr. Joshua Eudowe is a clinical and forensic psychologist in Westport specializing in child, adolescent and adult trauma, and high-risk patients. A threat assessment and crisis consultant to schools and businesses, and a first responder for more than 30 years, he serves as clinical director of the Connecticut Critical Incident Stress Management Team, and the COVID-19 Special Response Team. He writes:

Over a month into the pandemic, and for most of us, our emotions are changing.  The initial wave of anxiety is transforming into perhaps fear, anger, loneliness or sadness.

Managing these ever-changing emotions can be difficult. We spend a lot of time waiting and wondering what may come next. Protests are fueling some, while others struggle with increased fear.

While this happens, it’s natural for people to need to displace what’s building inside. For example, we may be more likely to argue with a spouse or child for something small. We may need time alone but can’t find “our” space in a house filled with others. Coping with isolation is grueling.

Dr. Joshua Eudowe

At the risk of sounding like every other monotonous self-help article, I’ll say it anyway. Two incredibly important aspects of managing our mood are diet and exercise. Eat healthy and exercise. Find an empty room and create your routine.  When we exercise, our body releases chemicals that can ease anxiety and depression.

Of course, you already know this. So what else can be done?

It is important to know is that these feelings are normal during traumatic times.  Whether you’re worried about a loved one, your family’s health, your job or business, financial instability or all of the above, those feelings are normal.

Go easy on yourself, and on others. Understand that while one person’s experience may be frightening, someone else’s may be intolerance or anger.

When trauma enters our lives our perceptions change. This can have tremendous influence over our ability to regulate our emotions.

For example, if a month ago we noticed rubber gloves on the ground, we’d shake our head and wonder why people aren’t more caring about the environment.

Today we see a pair of gloves on the ground and are filled with rage and anger. We think about the risks and the deplorable carelessness of others. The stress of these times can cause us to lash out in ways that are not normally part of our personality. This is something to be mindful of when interacting with others – especially children.

Traumatic experiences cause us to feel out of control. The more control we can create for ourselves, the more grounding it will have on our emotional state.  Although it may feel as if we have little control at the moment, we do. If you’re stuck, search for ways to have more control.

As adults and parents, we frequently need to set aside our emotions and help our children cope with growing uncertainty. Interestingly enough, during this time (on the surface) children may appear calmer. The anxieties or depression once prevalent most days may appear to have dissipated. They may be less argumentative and less “teenage” (insert laugh here).

It’s highly likely that some of their symptoms have eased due to a dramatic change in their environment. Social pressures have been nearly removed; parents are less concerned about behavioral issues, and therefore less strict.  Distance learning, while challenging, is also manageable, and without face to face contact with teachers, children are typically less anxious about the work.  Sports are canceled, and nearly all activities rescheduled. The number of “unknowns” have been removed. Therefore, many children are able to let go of some of their anxiety.

Anxiety is caused by a lack of control. In our lives, we use boundaries to create structure. We have expectations at work, school and home. We rely on our significant others to be consistent and predictable.

All of these create invisible structure, allowing our children to freely operate with the understanding of what’s expected (consistency) and what will happen (predictability).

Over the past month, our environments have been far more consistent and predictable in our day to day lives. What’s happened? Anxiety has decreased.  This is why parents may be seeing quasi-improvements in their children’s mental health.

Sheltering in place with a friend. (Photo/Nicole Klein)

However, don’t be fooled. When life returns to normal, so will expectations, fewer boundaries, less consistency and far less predictability.  Self-esteem issues will return — and could be worse.  Social anxieties could become more exaggerated, and pressure to succeed may become overwhelming.

Spend time talking to your children about this. Illustrate for them how their own feelings have changed during this time. Ask them to reflect on their anxieties as compared to several months ago.

It’s a helpful tool in building insight and self-reflection, as well as helping children recognize empathy when discussing those less fortunate during these times.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Be consistent. Be predictable.

Full Speed Ahead For Staples’ Sailing Team

COVID-19 has done what no opponent can: knock off Staples High School spring sports teams.

Coaches are providing workouts, and staying in touch via video conferences. Athletes are training on their own. Competitions, however, are on hold — perhaps all the way through the end of the season.

Yet one team still sails along.

Literally.

Staples’ sailing squad is special in many ways. It’s coed, for one thing. Members have experience in everything from 10-foot dinghies to 50-foot sailboats. But they are from different ages, they race in the summer for different clubs, and they’re in a variety of friend groups. Working together in tight quarters, they become a close-knit bunch.

The 2019 Staples High School sailing team.

The 20 sailors meet at Cedar Point Yacht Club. They typically spend 15 hours a week practicing and racing. The vibe is “competitive yet chill,” says senior co-captain Emerson Anvari.

The team — with a bunch of talented juniors — was looking forward to this season. Then the coronavirus raced in.

Emerson Anvari

Still, Anvari says, “we keep our sailing brains switched on.”

That’s because coach AJ Sorenson has found intriguing out-of-the-water experiences for his sailors. The most exciting is Virtual Regatta. An online game, it simulates an actual race as much as possible (without of course real wind, sea spray and booms that can knock you into the water.

The physical engagement — the full-body workout of trying to hike and flatten the boat — is missing. Sitting home with a laptop is “serene,” Anvari admits.

But the 2 competing teams join the same group chat program to simulate the often hectic nature of a race course, when many voices call out across the water. And it sure is fun. Take a look:

Last week, Anvari says, “I found myself really getting into it, getting tingly and excited the way I do when I compete.”

Then his sister called him to dinner, and he realized he was just lying in bed playing a computer game.

Still, Anvari and co-captain Nora Dockter have received great feedback from the rest of the team. They all enjoy the break from their daily routines.

Staples has “sailed” against Greenwich High already. They’re connecting with schools in places they never could compete against in real life — like Annapolis, Maryland — for future regattas.

Cecilia Adams and Emerson Anvari, last year.

Sailing is not the only Staples team using online resources. The girls golf team “practices” at 4 p.m. every day on Facebook. Head coach Patty Kondub — who is also a certified fitness trainer — leads golf-specific workouts Mondays and Wednesdays.

On Tuesdays they focus on skills like putting and chipping, through YouTube and other videos. The girls then post their own videos, and get feedback from coaches.

Thursdays are dedicated to other aspects of the game like rules, nutrition, and mental concentration.

Kondub is even making plans for Senior Day, and and a post-season “banquet.”

It’s not the same as Longshore. But — as the Staples sailing team knows — “any port in a storm.”

The Staples girls golf team.

From Lincoln To Obama: 2020 Grad Speech Has Westport Roots

More than 3 million high school students will not have a traditional graduation this spring.

But the COVID-stricken Class of 2020 will have something no other group could dream of: a televised national commencement address from Barack Obama.

And those millions of students have one person to thank: fellow senior Lincoln Debenham.

He’ll be graduating with them from Los Angeles’ Eagle Rock High School. But he grew up in Westport and spent 2 years at Staples High School, before moving with his parents to California.

Lincoln Debenham …

In mid-April Lincoln tweeted an invitation to the former president, to deliver a commencement address. It quickly earned hundreds of thousands of likes, and retweets.

This afternoon, Obama said “sure!”

In fact, he’ll do more than one.

“Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020” is an hour-long, multi-platform event. It airs at 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 16 on ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and other broadcast and digital streaming partners.

Special guests include LeBron James, Malala Yousafzai, the Jonas Brothers, Yara Shahidi, Bad Bunny, Lena Waithe, Pharrell Williams, Megan Rapinoe, H.E.R. and Ben Platt.

On Saturday, June 6 (3 p.m.), Obama and his wife Michelle will take part in YouTube’s “Dear Class of 2020.” The couple will deliver separate commencement addresses.

They’ll be joined an array of leaders from many fields, including Malala Yousafzai, Sundar Pichai, former Defense Secretary Bob Gates, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Lady Gaga, Alicia Keys and Kerry Washington.

… and Barack Obama.

Obama will also participate in “Show Me Your Walk, HBCU Edition,” a 2-hour event May 16 for students at historically black colleges and universities.

Lincoln heard the news from his mother — not the Obamas. Still, he’s stoked.

“This means a whole lot to me,” he told ABC News.

“The class of 2020 as well as anybody who wants to tune in are going to hear inspiration and uplifting words from these two amazing people who my generation grew up following. It’s what need right now and I’m glad Mr. and Mrs. Obama were so kind to agree to do it.”

As for Lincoln: He’s headed to California State University in Los Angeles.

And perhaps, a great career as a media influencer.