Prepare for graduation speech auditions

Prepare for graduation speech auditions

Butterflies in your stomach. Your hands might be shaking as you walk up to the front of the classroom. Then you struggle to airplay your IPad on the screen, which seems to take hours, as the projector gives you code after code. It finally works!

Now it’s time to open your mouth and let some words come out. 

Many know the feeling of public speaking, especially to an English class of around 20 to 30 kids, but speaking in front of thousands is a whole different story.

*cue the graduation music*

On May 22, a few seniors will speak in front of the class of 2024, their friends and families on the day of the bittersweet graduation.

Seniors must go through a process to be selected to speak, including writing their speech and auditioning, which will take place on April 30 in room 235 after school. 

 English teacher Elizabeth Joiner is one of the teachers who helps run the audition and selection process. She has been doing it for around 13 years and loves it.

“It just seems like a big reward for very little I think on my end, just organizing and listening,” Joiner said.  

In terms of organization, the audition includes speaking in front of the English teachers running the event (Jill Corr, Heather Sherwin and Joiner) as well as a student panel, which is made up of around 10 to 15 kids. Joiner finds these students as recommendations from other teachers in the building, specifically those involved with ASB like Danielle Luka and Cambria Myers. 

In terms of listening, Joiner tries to find the factors that she believes makes a good graduation speech such as avoiding cliche introductions, like common quotes, and reeling in the entire graduating class.

“I usually like the [speeches] where I really feel like it draws in the class…when you’re getting a view of ‘the every man,’ everybody’s experience, not just the one that’s personal to that kid,” Joiner said. 

Senior Emily Caravello, a fine arts performer, four year speech team member and someone planning on auditioning to speak at graduation, agrees with Joiner and both of them acknowledge that public speaking skills also have a role to play.

As a result of her speech team experience, Caravello believes she will know how to format her speech well, and won’t get nervous with speaking in front of a large crowd. 

Aside from these aspects, other, less controllable details are also considered when choosing a speech. For example, how well two speeches complement each other (if two speakers are chosen, which has been the trend for the past few years). 

If a humorous speech is chosen, Joiner and the other teachers may pair it with a more serious speech. Additionally, if two speeches are too similar, they will have to choose one over the other.  

After the audition occurs, the speakers are chosen quickly and students will receive an email announcing whether they were chosen or not. 

The speakers chosen will have to share their speech google document with Joiner and are usually required to practice the speech once or twice with speech team coach Michael Piccoli. 

Working with Piccoli and the speech team, Caravello has performed and listened to her fair share of speeches;, however, this moment, would be unique and especially meaningful to her.,

  “I think that it would be a really cool experience. I think that Prospect is a place that has given me so many different opportunities,” Caravello said, “and it’s somewhere where I’ve been able to get involved to the fullest extent that I can and really just explore things that I love to do.”

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