Mixed emotions fill a graduation ceremony. A good graduation speech can take both the gladness of completion and sadness of departure and blend them into a masterpiece, leaving graduates and the audience completely satisfied.
As you prepare for your speech, interview as many seniors and faculty as possible, asking them for quick responses to favorite moments during their years at the high school. Choosing the best ones for your speech will create a connection with seniors in the audience, giving them a feeling of contribution to what you have to say.
These fond moments also tie into the sadness of departure- what they wish could go on forever. It is best to start with the most humorous memories, and gradually work into the more meaningful or sentimental choices. This will warm up the crowd and relax them initially, and then allow you to take them right where you want to go.
Many seniors have been flooded with applications, exams, and numerous people asking them where they are going to go and what they are going to study when they get there. Be sensitive to the fact that these students have just completed 13 years of school and a cultural milestone, making the last thing they want to hear a speech about moving right along into another educational setting. Instead, try looking to more of a longer reaching future such as raising families, being conscious citizens and leave it at that. These images will connect with the second set emotions, the gladness of departure.
This is a great way to end a speech because it gives an opportunity to remember and recognize all of the people who had a part in the journey. Having students remember kindergarten teachers, custodians, librarians, parents’ endless responsibilities, relatives, friends, the list goes on and on. A great connection to make at this point is realizing all of the people that are yet to help these seniors on their journey through life. This ties together the past and future nicely, while bringing the happy and sad feelings to a crescendo.
Having spoken at two graduations, this formula does work. Even though the words and examples are different, the formula is one that high schoolers seem to respond to, parents seem to appreciate, and administrators look fondly on. Best of luck and congratulations for being so highly regarded by your students that you were chosen.