Did We Come Here to Make a Speech?

Senior Speeches Continue Without Purpose

Drew Rosenblum, Editor Emeritus

The senior speech has outlived its effectiveness, becoming a meaningless gimmick that exists solely as tradition for the sake of tradition. They have outlasted their purpose and constrain assemblies, forcing important announcements to be on Bearhug.

The best (and easiest way) to fix senior speeches is to make them optional. Students who still wish to give speeches absolutely should still be able to. Speeches have always been about telling stories, and they should continue to be about this.   

But here lies the biggest issue: if speeches are forced, the good will be diluted with those who give the speech just to graduate. This weakens the overall tradition of senior speeches, unintentionally demeaning the process.

There are other benefits as well to making senior speeches optional.

Requiring everyone in a class of over 120 students to give speeches to the entirety of the school is not only impractical, but makes important communication between students and administrators impossible. Because three seniors have to give 5-7 minute speeches per assembly, this means that there is far less time for actual assembly announcements.

This is evidenced in both the changes in assembly announcements (which are now more constrained in terms of time and how many people can give them) and the shift to BearHug. Because of this app, announcements theoretically can be put online for everyone to see at whatever time they want to see them. But herein lies the main issue: when students aren’t forced to listen to every announcement, they will at best just read the ones they are interested in, and at worst not even bother with the app. Having an ill-informed student body far outweighs the potential benefits to required senior speeches.

To summarize, senior speeches should be optional. There are benefits to a student body who can listen to those who wish to give speeches, but making everyone give a speech dilutes the impassioned with the apathetic. This ultimately hurts the tradition of senior speeches. Because of the growing size of each grade at Blake, most assembly announcements have been moved to BearHug, creating a less informed student populace.

In my heart of hearts, I believe that communication is a good thing, and that more communication is a good thing. So, specifically, I think that Blake is unique in that they give this opportunity to every senior to give this speech to figure out what they want to talk about, to find their voice. At many other schools, there isn’t a class, however. It seems to me that with the structure that Blake provides, it’s an incredible opportunity for students to demonstrate their voice, not find it necessarily, because you have it, but to demonstrate it, and to demonstrate it in a way that’s different.” – Sandy Berkowitz