A Look Into the Selection of Senior Graduation Speakers


Courtesy of the BSM Marketing Department

Emily Zagaros, a recent 2022 graduate, giving her senior speech last year at graduation.

As the BSM seniors’ final spring semester is well underway, the selection process has begun to decide who will give the annual senior speech at this year’s graduation.

The senior speech is always a thing that is very enjoyable and makes graduation special for everyone in attendance. Senior students have already been contacted by Ms. Dahlstrom, Assistant Principal of Student Life, to fill out a form regarding who will be chosen to give the speech. “So to start off the process, I send an email out with a Google Form to the entire senior class, and they can nominate themselves or nominate someone else in their class, and then they’ll just have to say why [that student should give the speech],” Dahlstrom siad.

The whole process for being selected as the senior speaker wasn’t always in place at BSM, and it is a newer concept that was created to give everyone the chance to speak at graduation if they wanted to. Most years only one student is asked to give a speech at graduation, but it does differ from year to year. “Normally, just one [student is chosen]. In the past when I started here, well, the year before I started here, all the valedictorians gave a speech, so if there were like 10 of them, 10 speeches [were given], and that got really long. So what they did when I started here, it was this whole selection process of anybody can speak because some of the valedictorians didn’t want to speak either,” Dahlstrom said.

After being nominated, there are multiple more steps that are taken before the student is actually selected. This ensures that the right student is chosen in order to give an impactful speech at graduation to wrap up the seniors BSM experience. “So once they’re nominated, then they submit a one page outline. And then I have a panel that reads them anonymously. And then they choose the top five, those top five go on to write the full speech and then they perform a live in front of the panel and then the panel picks one,” Dahlstrom said.

As far as the content of the speech, there is no prompt that is given to students to answer from year to year, but there are some requirements given for students to think about when writing it. “The three things that I asked them to do is make sure that they’re speaking to everybody, so this includes graduates, the parents, and guests that are there. The next is about their experience at BSM, and finally ask them to try and incorporate the Scripture theme of that year,” Dahlstrom said.

Once the student(s) are selected and their speech is written, they then go on to focus on the presentation of the actual speech by working with a speech coach. While it might just be in front of your classmates and their families, it is still an important speech and the BSM faculty wants the student(s) to be set up for success. “So once they have the speech done, or pretty much done, they’ve presented it to the panel, and they’ve been selected, they go to a speech coach. Students work with the coach because some parts can get a little bit long or the parts that are hard to understand. They also work on the cadence, the rhythm, and the delivery, just making sure that they’re pausing if there’s jokes or different things like that. So those are the kinds of things that they work out and tweak before they actually deliver. And then they practice a bunch before they get up there,” Dahlstrom said.

The selection for the student to give the senior speech at graduation is still in its early stages, but with only a few months left of the school year, the pressure is on to make it memorable in every way possible.