Deadline for class speaker applications approaches on Thursday

The senior class of 2023 is getting down to the wire with preparations for graduation. As the honorary tradition continues of having a senior speaker at graduation, Senior Leadership is on the hunt for the right candidate. Business teacher Julie Cuvelier said, “So Senior Leadership does some very traditional tasks that lead to the commencement ceremony. We are on a mission right now of choosing a student speaker for that. We’ve always honored somebody to speak. They are given about five minutes to speak to the class and send a message to them, so recently we had a meeting as a large group and determined the criteria before you could be nominated. This included like do they meet a certain Grade Point Average, do you want them to be involved in activities inside or outside of school, how much involvement would you like. One rule might be about discipline. The group always has to decide what they think is appropriate for that and changes from year to year.

Cuvelier said the traditions at the end of the school help to bring a sense of closure for seniors. “What I believed happened from year to year is that as soon as you enter your senior year, there is a whole lot of excitement about it being the last, and when we come back from break, there’s a really big shift in attitude. Then around March seniors get pretty sentimental. From March to about June we like to celebrate them, and so when we plan these activities they can be social and part of the community. It helps seniors come together at that point and feel the connection and celebrate what they’ve done. Also, maybe have that closure that the next steps are coming.”

For those who’d like to be the speaker, Cuvelier offers insights. “We have a process for choosing the commencement speaker that is student-led, and we do oversee it. People submit nominations, and those nominations are given to the people by [English teacher Heidi] Anderson and write out an outline. The outline is then given to the students, and no names are on it. They choose the best five outlines they like. The top five go on to be interviewed with different seniors. It’s then chosen, and there’s a lot to protect when picking a friend. We’ve always said that means to be a person that everyone can relate to so that’s an important part of that too.”

Ultimately, Cuvelier said, “Commencement speaker has just been a tradition for the commencement ceremony for many many years. We’ve always had students speak. Often the model is like Class President or maybe somebody asked to speak. But at our school we believe in sending a strong message to the Senior class.”

Senior Jake Hulstein said, All I hope is that the right person gets the spot, there are plenty of qualified candidates who could claim the spot.

Another Senior who’s up for nomination senior Keiana James said, “I know that whomever is selected will do a tremendous job, but I do hope that whomever is selected is a good representation of both the student body and the community. I hope to gain insight on the desires of the senior class through the selection of the senior speaker. It is important to me, as student body president, that our student body and our senior class especially feels heard, seen and represented by our senior speaker. I hope that our senior speaker is someone who has been dedicated to the senior class, and is representative of the senior class.”

For aspiring commencement speaker applicants, James points to last year for inspiration. “Past senior speakers have talked about various topics, but Grace Bobeldyk’s speech last year in regard to growth and continuing on in our journey as people outside the four walls of the high school was extremely impactful onto me, personally. I was friends with Grace, and her speech definitely made me shed a few tears. I have high hopes that this year’s senior speaker will continue the tradition of wowing the crowd of the McLeod Center with their heartfelt speech about the trials and tribulations of high school and how we will continue to blossom as individuals after we leave this building.”

The application for class speaker is on Schoology in the class page, and the deadline for submissions is Thursday Feb. 2.

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