Valedictorian Speech Says Goodbye To School, Hello To The Future

Valedictorian speech

The person in a graduation class with the highest GPA or record of achievement is known as the valedictorian. They typically make a speech at graduation that bids goodbye to classmates, thanks the schools and teacher on behalf of the class, and offers inspiration.

At high school graduations, the valedictorian, the person in the graduating class with the highest GPA or record of achievement, speaks for the class about their high school years and the exciting journey ahead.

This valedictorian speech should be positive and uplifting and have anecdotes of the journey through high school as well as thoughts on their future.

How Is The Valedictorian Usually Selected?

An academic title, the valedictorian is the highest-ranked student among the students graduating. In addition to considering grade point averages, some high schools look at the types of classes taken to ensure the title goes to the most academically minded individual in that year’s graduating class.

Giving extra points toward the GPA to honors or Advanced Placement classes is called a weighted grade scale.

The person giving the valedicotiran speech is usually at the top  of the class

What Is The Purpose Of A Valedictorian Speech?

The valedictorian speech serves a few purposes:

  • Builds excitement about what is yet to come for the graduates
  •  Bids farewell to the graduating class
  •  Reminisces about the high school journey
  •  Thanks those who have helped the class get to where they are today

How Do You Introduce Yourself In A Valedictorian Speech?

As with any public speaking, it is best to introduce yourself early in the speech. Start with a greeting, such as “Welcome family members, friends, and my fellow graduates. My name is Pam Berg, and it is my honor as the valedictorian of our class to have this opportunity to share some thoughts and memories of our journey through high school together.”

What Do You Say (and Do) In A Valedictory Speech?

One thing to keep in mind as you plan what to say in your speech is that a valedictorian speech should be between five and ten minutes long. There are many essential aspects to good speech writing and delivery. Here are some tips:

  • Amusing Stories: While you should avoid telling jokes that may fall flat and fill space, do tell amusing stories from your graduating class. As valedictorian, you might use a story with a bit of self-deprecating humor to help the audience relate to you and loosen up from the start.
  • Make Eye Contact: If you are concerned about getting nervous and forgetting to keep eye contact, practice looking up periodically. A tip to help you remember is to put highlighter dots every so often throughout your typed speech.
  • Practice: Sometimes, you don’t want anyone to hear your speech until you give it, but you can still practice. You can either practice in front of a mirror or record yourself.
  • Remember Transitions: Remember to have transitions from one story to the next so your speech flows.
  • Shared Experiences: Stories should not be all about you and your group of friends. Focus on shared experiences.
  • Significant Events: Many times, a graduating class has experienced unique things together. On a graduation day that I distinctly remember, one of the speakers reminisced about how the entire class had the opportunity to see the Broadway musical Hamilton as sophomores. That is an excellent example of something to reminisce about. If your class has had a loss, it is okay to mention that person. Just try not to dwell too long on a sad event like the death of a classmate.
  • Smile: Everyone looks better with a smile on their face. Remember to smile!
  • Speak from the Heart: Just trusting your gut and speaking sincerely is always good advice.
  • Thank People: When you thank people think globally. You are not the only grad who is where you are due to family, friends, and staff.
  • Type the Speech: To make it easy to read off of your notes, it can be helpful to print your speech in a larger font than you would normally use.

What Is The Difference Between Valedictorian And Salutatorian Speech?

The salutatorian is the person with the second-highest grade point average in the school. It is customary for the salutatorian to give a welcoming speech. They speak to everyone at the graduation ceremony to give a welcome on behalf of the graduates. Both graduation speeches have important purposes and recognize the hard work done by both the “val” and “sal” throughout high school.

Although the salutatorian is less likely to tell stories about the high school journey, it is appropriate to share an inspirational quote and offer thanks to staff and fellow students.

What Should A Valedictorian Speech Not Do?

  • Alienate Anyone: Make sure that you don’t say anything to alienate portions of your audience. Everyone should feel important and represented.
  • Focus on Yourself: The high school valedictorian speech is not all about you (or your friend group).
  • Read off the Paper: While it is smart to have notes, remember you are giving a speech, not reading an essay. Eye contact is crucial.
  • Speak Negatively: Keep the message positive.

Valedictorian Speech Examples

Alexander Stone’s speech does a lovely job of balancing his personal anecdotes with advice for the class. Notice how he makes excellent eye contact, uses famous inspirational quotes, and keeps pulling in the audience with his words.

In this second video, a non-verbal autistic student Elizabeth Bonkers delivers the Rollins College commencement address.

Pam Berg

A former English teacher and currently an elementary principal in a rural school, Pam has honed her speaking skills in the classroom and before professional groups. Pam enjoys sharing her insights about public speaking almost as much as she enjoys running, which she does daily.

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