All Seniors should have the choice to submit a Commencement Speech


Photo Credits: Cirina Matos Photography

Ana Crangle, Editor in Chief


Renowned Author Dianna Hardy once said, “It only takes one voice, at the right pitch, to start an avalanche.” Hardy’s famed words, although written almost a decade ago and halfway across the world, still lead an argument in our community today.
As students at Tallmadge High School, it is clear we have ample resources to voice our opinions and stories on a daily basis. While some views are not as widely spread as others, it has been proven to be a safe forum of ideas and commentary for as long as these walls have been standing.
One special moment students have to use their voice outside these walls is graduation. Graduation is truly the moment that seniors long for, a chance to walk across the stage and receive their diploma. An accomplishment they have worked their whole lives for. Every year at this life-altering event, one senior is given the opportunity to address their classmates, their families, friends, and staff members. This is formally known as the Commencement Speech.
However, there is a strict set of guidelines one must meet to give this speech. Any senior receiving the honor of Summa Cum Laude, meaning they have earned a cumulative GPA of 4.2 or higher, is allowed to submit a speech to be read at graduation. After submissions are received from that pool of students, a team of staff members reviews each potential speech in a practice round where students prove their ability to deliver their written work.
Summa Cum Laude is a high honor to achieve no doubt, however, Tallmadge by reputation has a past of counting all voices of the collective student body, not just those with high academic status. Therefore, all senior students should be given the chance to stand up and start an avalanche, because, in reality, academics cannot measure the value of someone’s ability to change others lives through speech.
Coming from the more traditional viewpoint, an argument can be made that only the top academic students have the skill to write a speech fitting for graduation. A claim could also be made that the chance to give the Commencement speech is a reward for students who achieved the very difficult. Nonetheless, students can still be academically capable of producing an inspirational speech for graduation and lack the almost academic perfection needed to achieve Summa Cum Laude.
This life gives each of us a unique story, a unique perspective on how we found the motivation to keep going after what we wanted most. At the end of the day, the greatest success story has no grade point average or social standing; but simply the courage to be heard.
If you agree that all Tallmadge seniors should be given the chance to submit a Commencement Speech, talk to the Guidance office or Principal Mike Householder. If we join together, we just might start an avalanche.