Commencement Speaker Semifinalists chosen


Alexis Morales (‘15) speaks during last year’s Commencement ceremony. Morales was one of the two chosen speakers last year. Photo by: Emily Lisac

On Oct. 14, 2015 senior students with above a 4.0 GPA were invited to attend a commencement speech session during Senior Seminar. This session allowed for qualified students to learn more about the process of writing a speech for graduation.

“Several months ago, we chose all of the kids who had above a certain GPA and sent out an email to them saying we were going to have a call-out meeting for Commencement speeches. [At the meeting], I told the kids to be creative, think outside the box and do fun things with their speeches. After they were due and we collected them all, [Mrs. Sherrie Bereda, Guidance,] removed all of the names from the speeches. We have a committee that goes through all of the speeches. [Each committee member] was given a copy of each speech, and blindly chose the ones that they felt were deserving of an audition,” Ms. Melissa Rettig, Dean of Guidance, said.

Of the 21 students who submitted speeches, seven were chosen as semifinalists: Sarthak Aggarwal, Brittany Busby, John Damarjian, Rachel Gross, Eva Kimberly, Gianna Mills and Jeannine Toth. The semifinalists will have to present their speeches in an audition in front of the committee.

“I feel honored to be chosen as a semi-finalist because graduation is a big deal, so getting to speak at it is a really big goal of mine. I worked really hard on preparing my speech, so now, before the audition, I’m just going to work on memorizing it as much as possible and making sure my skills are up to par,” Kimberly said.

The semifinalists will find out who was chosen to speak at the Senior Breakfast.

“[After the auditions], we will be able to probably choose that night who will be speaking. [The semi-finalists] will not know who will be doing the speech until the Senior Breakfast,” Ms. Rettig said.

Senior Breakfast is an invitation-only event in which seniors receiving an Academic Honors diploma or a scholarship from the college they are attending are invited. Seniors who earned the Academic Honors diploma will be receiving their medals from their guidance counselor. Seniors should fill out the Graduation Survey on Naviance to let the Guidance Department know which college they will attend and if they have received any academic or athletic scholarships from that school.

“The Senior Breakfast is Friday, April 29. The reason we’re doing it is to recognize the senior class. We are very fortunate [that] our kids get a lot of scholarships. Last year [our students received] over $12 million. It seems so impersonal [to recognize the students who received scholarships from their schools] on Senior Honors Night. The kids come up and we are just handing them a certificate. [During the Senior Breakfast] it’s a little bit more [personal], you get a breakfast, and it’s just one more way we can recognize those kids who are getting those scholarships to the schools they are going to,” Ms. Rettig said.