2017 Commencement to feature new student speaker
NPHS seniors have opportunity to enter application for student speaker honor
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TOWAMENCIN- North Penn High School’s graduation ceremony for the Class of 2017 will experience a new dynamic in June: the addition of a student speaker. Not only will the Valedictorian, Salutatorian, and Class President have the opportunity to speak, but also another member of the Class of 2017, who, upon completion of an application, will be chosen through a thorough selection process.
Mr. Todd Bauer, Principal of NPHS, explained that the inspiration behind the chance for seniors to speak at graduation not only comes from his previous school district, but also NPHS seniors that inquired about the opportunity.
“Quite frankly, I had done this in my previous district,” stated Bauer. “Graduation speakers were not simply based upon class rank; there was an application process to speak at graduation. We would recognize the Val[edictorian] and Sal[utatorian] and the Class President, but then the speakers were chosen based on the application process. The process that we’re doing here mirrors what I did at my previous school. I loved the idea from my previous district. A credit to the seniors, I’ve had four or five kids this year stop me and say, ‘Mr. Bauer, I want to speak at graduation. What do you think?’”
Although a School Board regulation states that the Valedictorian, Salutatorian, and Class President speak at graduation, it doesn’t say those three exclusively. After looking into the matter and speaking with Dr. Curt Dietrich, Superintendent of NPSD, Dr. Diane Holben, Assistant Superintendent, and Dr. Deb McKay, Director of Secondary Education, Bauer explained that he gained permission to follow through.
“It says those three speak, so I looked into it whether or not I could add someone, and I got the blessing
from above, so we’re rolling with it,” said Bauer. “It’s also nothing against the Val[edictorian] and Sal[utatorian], they’re great students who are number one or two in a class of a thousand, which is tremendous.”
Seniors interested in applying to be a graduation speaker can request an application, which outlines the necessary qualifications, selection process, important considerations, and the timeline for the process, in Home Office F40. Speeches are to fall into one of two categories: welcome and reflection or a look into the future and good luck. Such categories were chosen, because the Valedictorian and Salutatorian typically give a welcome and goodbye speech, which are derived from Latin roots.
Bauer explained that speeches must be submitted to the senior home office by April 27th at 3:00pm, and the selection committee will review and evaluate the submissions by May 5th. By May 10th, students who applied will be notified if they qualify for the second round of speech delivery, which will occur from May 15th-17th. Students will be notified on May 24th regarding the selected student speaker for graduation.
Although the selection committee for the graduation speaker applicants has not been finalized, Bauer noted that the members will follow a rubric, which will allow for the creativity and quality of the writing and message, when evaluating the submissions.
After two days of the news being communicated to the Class of 2017, Bauer noted that about a dozen students had requested an application.
“That’s an intimidating thing; not everybody can stand up and talk in front of 8,000 people,” stated Bauer. “All it takes is one, but I’m hoping that it’s going to be something that is unique to the class of 2017, and I’m hoping that that person represents the students.”
Adding to the importance of finding the voice of the Class of 2017, Bauer explained that adding three minutes or so the hour and forty-five-minute ceremony is worth it.
“As far as I’m concerned, a high school graduation is a once in a lifetime event hopefully, and we don’t need to rush it,” stated Bauer. “I don’t want it to be three hours, but I’m not trying to make it under an hour and a half. There’s no need to rush. I think it’s a dignified ceremony, and it deserves the prestige of taking our time.”
Not only did Bauer note the importance of the graduation ceremony itself, but also the dynamic that the addition of a speaker would bring by getting more students involved.
“I just hope there’s some personalization. At last year’s graduation, we did the running man. I want each graduation to be a little unique and special and not just based on the names of the kids that are read. I want it to be a little different, and I want the kids to remember their high school graduation. If us adults just sit there and just sit around the table and plan graduation, I want the kids to be involved,” explained Bauer.
Despite the fact that some traditionalists were a bit nervous at first, Bauer noted that the majority of the feedback regarding the addition of a graduation speaker has been positive.