Top 20% of seniors audition for a chance to speak at graduation


Skylar Clark

Students gave commencement speeches in the LGI, with the hopes of being selected to speak at graduation.

Skylar Clark, Editor-in-Chief

2018 marked the last year that a valedictorian or salutatorian would speak at graduation.

With the elimination of class rank, an email was sent out to all seniors in the top 20% this spring, giving them the opportunity to audition to be this year’s speaker at graduation.

“If students were interested in being a speaker at graduation, they had to fill out a Google form that had a number of questions that they had to complete, like where were they going to go to school next year or what their plans were post-high school, different activities they were involved in when they were at Highland High School, and also what’s an interesting story or something that they thought was impactful, as to what made them unique and why they should be considered to speak for the entire class,” said Assistant Principal Andrew Locke.

Students were later notified if they were invited to audition.

“I wanted to (give a speech at graduation) because for me, it was something I wanted, to put my little mark on Highland High School,” said senior Megan Herron. “I felt like they have influenced me a lot, and I wanted to do the same for them.”

Other students had different reasons for wanting to speak at graduation.

Senior Karli Byrd said, “Well, it’s the first year that our school is doing this. I felt like it was an unique opportunity, and I just felt like trying it.”

“I felt like I had something interesting that may help my classmates that I could share,” said senior Ethan Lewis.

Teachers, guidance counselors and members of administration were included on the judges’ panel, and had rubrics to score the speeches.

Locke said, “As we met together, we took everybody’s feedback, and the decision was made as a committee.”

Students were given two choices when coming up with a speech: looking back or into the future.

“I was looking ahead at the future, and trying to be uplifting to everybody – the kids who succeed in school, the kids who didn’t like school. I was just trying to encourage everybody that was in the room,” said Byrd.

Lewis said, “Mainly, (my speech) is just keeping a good attitude and positive outlook in life. You know, it may be hard, but you can always work towards something.”

According to Locke, the school isn’t not sure how many speakers there will be at graduation.

“It will be somewhere between one and four,” said Locke.

Although there may be multiple speakers at graduation, Principal Dr. Patrick Weil said that it won’t affect the length of the ceremony. The time limit for these speeches will be about five minutes each. The speaker or speakers for this year’s ceremony will be announced at the Afternoon of Stars Luncheon for seniors with a 3.5 GPA or higher on May 19.