Having a voice

Seniors nominated by the top 5 percent prepare to speak at graduation for the class of 2017

The light at the end of the tunnel is within reach for the Class of 2017, and preparations to finally graduate are well on their way. Students speaking at graduation in particular knew how much work it would take in advance.

On the night of graduation, seniors Cameron Rua-Smith, Kane Hudson, and valedictorian Aly Neaves will each give a unique speech prepared for their peers.

Neaves did have to make some sacrifices to get where she is, “A lot of sleep, a lot of time, a lot of work. I did give up some classes I enjoyed,” Neaves said.

It has been a goal of hers since middle school, and despite what she gave up Neaves said, “I’m very proud of it, especially for my family, I’m going to be the first to go to college.”

While the valedictorian automatically is given time to speak, the other two speakers had to be nominated and voted in by the top five percent of the senior class in a meeting held before school. They were told to plead their case, telling why they believed they were capable of addressing the graduating class.

“I actually had some people talk to me, telling me that they voted me in because they thought that I would give a non-cliche speech,” Hudson said.

Something that may have also offered some credibility was the fact that Hudson participates in Speech and Debate.

“The reason why I chose to do it was because… I feel like speaking at graduation is the best way to end my year,” Rua-Smith said.

The work put into these few minutes was undeniable. Students had about a week to form their words before sending the speech to administration for final approval.

“I’ve gone through many English teachers, having them help me to make sure it sounds right and I recite it over and over. I want to make sure that where there’s emotion… it sounds powerful,” Rua-Smith said.

There is some unrest about this matter, however. After the top five percent had been invited to a meeting before school, only part of them showed up.

“If you’re going to do the five percent, which I think is a good idea, then it needs to be on a school day where you call each person in separately because there is only [about] 35 people in the top five,” salutatorian Chris Carpenter said. This is to ensure every voice is heard in such a small sample size.

Many feel Carpenter is not getting enough recognition as salutatorian since he was not chosen to speak at graduation; there was even a petition going around to allot some floor time for him.

Carpenter does not believe anything will come of it, but “I think [the petition is] pretty cool because whether or not admin does anything about it, it still just kind of shows that the support is [there],” Carpenter said.

Carpenter, however, did not advocate for himself at the top five meeting. “I wanted everybody to choose who they wanted to hear the most, and if somebody didn’t know me already or wanted to hear someone else… they shouldn’t be voting for me, so I didn’t want to sway them in that way,” Carpenter said.

In the end, salutatorian is a huge success to commend, whether that includes speaking at graduation or not.