Graduation Speeches

By Sean Fischer

Volume 67, Issue V

Moving, comical, optimistic: graduation speeches are so much more than a way to conclude a ceremony. Recently, there has been more and more press coverage at lucky universities and high schools around the country that have the opportunity to have a celebrity, or a president, address the graduating class. This inclusion of political icons such as President Trump or Betsy DeVos has led to politicization of graduation ceremonies, with graduation students sometimes walking out of the ceremony as a form of protest. Here at Briarcliff, we don’t need politicians or celebrities; we have something better: Ms. Comblo, Sophie Underwood, Jackie Contento, and Lauren Burnette. Typically, the senior class chooses a faculty member to speak, and this year they have chosen history teacher Ms. Comblo. In addition to her, the valedictorian (Sophie) and the two salutatorians (Jackie and Lauren) also address the class. In terms of the politicization of speeches, Sophie says that “many people would probably expect a politician to somehow tie their speech into their political platform and beliefs in some way, but I don’t think it should be the main focus of their speech.” She’s not alone in this belief, many people believe that the inclusion of personal political beliefs detracts from the main event: the amazing accomplishment that is being recognized. Still, despite the controversy, the high school graduation promises to be a rather uncontroversial, stereotypical Briarcliff event, for better or for worse. To end in a typical graduation-speech-style ending, in the words of Ellen DeGeneres at Tulane “follow your passion, stay true to yourself, never follow someone else’s path… be true to yourself and everything will be fine.” Enjoy the speeches, absorb the wisdom provided by them, and enjoy this year’s #gradpartyszn.

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