Graduation speakers prepare to perform

Julianna Poe, Sports Editor

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In just five days, our Manhattan High seniors will be lifting their hats off to their high school careers, whereas seniors Gregory VanDyke Jr. and Jered Zhang will additionally have the opportunity to leave an impact on their class through their graduation speeches.

“We always want speeches to be inspirational,” junior class principal Janelle Boden said. “But we also hope … [our senior class] just finish off their high school career on a positive note, because realistically, how many of us truly remember a whole lot about graduation speeches 10, 20, 30 years later? But I want it to just be a positive experience more than anything.”

This year’s graduation speaker selection process compared to previous years was designed differently in hopes to improve the system.

“The quality of the applicants and the quality of their speeches and messages was greater than they were last year,” Boden said, “and I have appreciated that.”

The two speakers still need to tweak and refine their graduation speeches before graduation rolls around.

“I still have quite a bit of polishing to do on the speech itself, but I feel confident in my ability to present it,” Zhang said.

For his speech, Zhang plans to make his speech “humorous and self-aware, but be littered with moments for contemplation.”

“I hope to comment on the current generation’s role in today’s society from both sociological and existentialist lenses, both acknowledging the daunting difficulty of bettering society and urging action regardless,” Zhang said.

Meanwhile, VanDyke hopes to encourage seniors to keep their head up.

“I hope that [my speech] leaves a good impression,” VanDyke said. “Wherefore, it’s something I can take to encourage them to keep on fighting though the next stage of their life. I don’t want to make any bad impressions on anybody at all. But I want to like encourage all seniors that they got this, we’re here for a reason and we’re going to keep on going through this guys.”

No matter what, the speeches are expected to have a positive impact.

“[With their speeches, I’m looking forward to] good memories and laughter and smiles,” Boden said. “Just … making it a positive experience for everybody involved. That’s what it’s all about, smiling and having fun.”

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