Staff Editorial: New Graduation speakers allow for inclusivity


Grace Farley

Graduate Ben Baaken celebrates with his fellow graduating seniors of the 2018 class. The 2019 seniors will be graduating June 6 at the Stadium.

Because we are an upstanding community, we must strive to ensure all voices within our community are heard.

Every year families of high school students come together for Commencement and expect to hear the year’s valedictorians speak. However, this class’s 11 valedictorians voted to allow other members of the senior class to speak at graduation.

After nominations and auditions, four additional Commencement speakers were selected to speak along with four valedictorians.

The Echo Editorial Board praises the valedictorians for allowing other seniors with different experiences from high school to speak at Graduation.

Although the valedictorians deserve recognition for working hard throughout high school, it is very important the senior class is represented by other speakers with different forms of success and more diverse backgrounds.

With new perspectives, the Graduation speeches will be more relatable and more engaging.

According to assistant principal Jessica Busse, valedictorians must have taken 15 advanced classes throughout high school. Because this graduating class experienced the honors block in which each student had to choose all or no honors, many were set on a course in which it became harder to take advanced classes and therefore became harder to qualify for valedictorian.

We believe with the racial disparities in honors courses and non-honors courses, expanding the speakers to the entire senior class will be more inclusive.

The Editorial Board does propose, however, valedictorians create a speaker selection system is not audition-based. If speakers are chosen by valedictorians, it is hard to ensure they are selected in a fair, non-biased way.

In addition, having non-valedictorian Commencement speakers at Graduation in the future should be viewed as a norm, rather than a praiseworthy reform.

This is a step forward and we should be proud of our seniors for creating a space for representation of all experiences, but Park must continue to change until it is truly an inclusive community.