Cons- What About A Good Speech?

Story by Edith Pendell, Social Media Editor


Imagine it’s your graduation day–the proudest moment of your life, well, thus far. Your grandparents drove in from Ohio, you’re sitting in a sweaty satin gown in the MSU auditorium, and overall, you’re looking toward a bright future. That is, until the Valedictorian takes the stage. “The dictionary defines ‘graduate’ as…” he drawls on. He has the highest GPA in the school, but can’t say something original to save his life. You look into the audience at your little cousin and sigh…this is going to be a long ceremony. 

Having the highest GPA doesn’t make you a good public speaker. Sure, you might be intelligent and able to engage in discourse for classes, but speech-writing isn’t an exact science to be mastered–it depends on emotion and human connection. At graduation, seniors need a captivating speaker to give an honest reflection on the high school experience. 

The super-high 4.7 GPA required to be speaker simply isn’t available to every student. Some cannot afford AP tests, have to work a job or two and cannot study for perfect grades, or have a learning disability that affects their grades. A high school is full of interesting and diverse people- unique experiences make for great speeches. Everyone deserves a chance to say their piece, and this is why the class speaker should not be chosen based on GPA, but on speech merit.

While a Valedictorian spot recognizes the hard work of the top student grade-wise in a school, it puts all the academically-minded students against each other. At a school like ELHS, with 56% AP participation rate, competition for the number one GPA spot can come down to very close races–and tenths of grade point that really don’t matter in the long run. This competition is unnecessary–students already obsess about grades to get into selective schools, and they already compare themselves to each other. Why make it worse?