Senior Class Orators

Sam Sorkin, Staff Reporter

With graduation, comes big responsibilities. Since graduation is such a major event for many seniors and their families, some students have made it a personal goal to be in the top 10 of their class, class orator, or simply to speak in front of their fellow graduates, family and friends at senior related events. Graduation will be held on May 21 at the University of Central Florida.

This year brings a couple of small changes. The only student orators who spoke last year were class orator, top ten orator and class president. But this year the senior class valedictorian, Lauren Holladay, will now  also speak. Continuing some of the same roles as last year class orator, Marcos Arroyo, senior class president, Matthew Murray and top ten orator, Matilda von Kalm, will speak at graduation.

For the Holladay and Murray, they did not have to try out to speak at graduation like the other orators.

“But I’d say my excitement exceeds my intimidation,” Holladay said. “I was not expecting to speak at graduation earlier in the year, but our principal requested me to speak. I was kind of hesitant at first, but I accepted the challenge because I did not want to look back years from now and regret giving up this amazing opportunity.”

On the other hand, von Kalm had to compete against two other people from the top 10. Karina Yap won second place among the top 10 speakers. Since she is second place for the top 10 category, she was given the opportunity to speak at the high honors ceremony. It is a similar situation for Kelly Dunne, who got second place for class orator and will now be able to speak at the senior breakfast.

“We got papers in class about graduation and we also got papers to try out for class orator. I thought I might as well try, you only go to high school and graduate once, so why not,” Arroyo said. “I had to write a speech, it had to be spoken within three to five minutes, and we also had to submit a hard copy to upper house guidance. The next week we had to try out against the other people who wanted to speak.”

A variety of  thirty teachers and administrators came to watch all of the speeches to determine who would go on to become class orator, senior breakfast speaker, high honors breakfast speaker or top 10 orator.

 “We each went in front of a panel of judges who are teachers. Some of them were Mrs. Piggot, Mr. Pooler, Mr. Lias and even a couple of administrators. The teachers were from each kind of class type, AP, honors and standard but they were all from upper house,” Dunne said.

The next day, the students found out whether or not they made the cut. The students who were chosen to speak would immediately start writing on their specified topic. The orators would also start practicing speaking and delivering their speech as preparation for their event.

“We work with Mrs. Browne a lot, sometimes we go in during our lunches. She critiques us and changes things around. That is probably some of the best prep we can do,” Arroyo said.

Preparation is key when it comes to speaking in front of a large audience. Mrs. Browne is a AP Literature and English IV standard teacher. She is acclaimed to be “one of the best” by the students that she is assisting with their speeches.

“I’ve been going into see Mrs. Brown twice a week to prepare and during lunches to practice. I also speak in front of my mirror, my parents, at dinner and things like that,” Dunne said.

The orators feel the intense pressures of speaking in front of the whole senior class. But the consensus is that it will be a memorable experience.

“We all feel the pressure because we all want to do well but on the other hand it is a great opportunity,” Arroyo said.