Do Senior Speeches have the power to impact your life?

At Saint Stephen’s, the senior speech is a long-standing graduation requirement that can have two different impacts: one on the graduating student, and one on the audience.


Evanthia Stirou

The Senior Speech, historically, has been an engine of change in the hearts of Saint Stephen's students. Original art by Evanthia Stirou.

Here at Saint Stephen’s, a core component of the graduation process is the famous “senior speech,” where a senior speaks to the whole school during chapel about a core aspect of their life. 

During our weekly chapel services, seniors can use this culminating opportunity on stage to reveal anything about themselves to the audience. Senior speeches can have two different impacts: one on the graduating student if it is personal and written with meaning, and one on the audience if they truly listen to the words being spoken. 

Mr. Revard is a member of the Senior Speech Committee, a “judging” panel that confers and decides on the “best senior speech” at the end of the school year. 

Revard said the senior speech must be genuine, and truly from the heart. 

As someone who has listened to hundreds of speeches ranging in all subjects, over time, he has pinpointed what specifically makes a speech impactful: “The types of speeches I think stand out talk about a personal experience, what you’ve learned, how you’ve grown, and/or how your experience at Saint Stephen’s has stood out over time.” 

When judging senior speeches and looking for the one that best fits the criteria, the actual content of the speech is not the only thing being considered.  According to Mr. Revard, “It is not just the content, although that is important, but how well it can be delivered and how well it resonates with the audience.” 

Ultimately, there are two main aspects that determine if a senior speech will be impactful: the subject of the speech, and the presentation of that speech.

It is not just the content, although that is important, but how well it can be delivered and how well it resonates with the audience.”

— Mr. Revard

For the writer, there is a plethora of subjects to talk about for the senior speech, ranging from light-hearted topics to more personal and deep subjects. Further, this graduation requirement is quite possibly the most important assignment students here at SSES will ever receive, as it is an experience unlike any other as a Saint Stephen’s student. 

Filling out college applications and taking the SAT is one thing, but putting yourself on stage in front of hundreds of students and faculty members within the upper school is unlike any other experience you will have here at Saint Stephen’s. This opportunity is special: it is something a student will be proud of forever, as it will allow them to grow their self-confidence and self-identity, and ultimately into themselves as individuals. 

The senior speech is an opportunity for the oldest Falcons to talk about anything. They can reveal something that makes them vulnerable, such as a “secret” or something they hold close to their hearts. It may be a time to share something that has been weighing them down, or something that they might want to share with the people they know. 

Sometimes, no one knows what goes on in one’s daily life, and so this opportunity is a chance to reveal a deeper level of oneself, and reveal what truly makes you, you, and what has truly impacted you and brought you to this moment in time. 

As an upperclassman, junior Carly Lansberg has listened to hundreds of these speeches ranging in subject. Based on previous knowledge, she said, “I like hearing about their [seniors’] struggles and what they have overcome, I feel like I can get to know them better.” 

When you open yourself up and allow yourself to be vulnerable in your senior speech, you are revealing a deeper level of yourself to the people around you. This is important and impactful to not only your personal growth, but the audience’s. 

Over time, audience members in all grade levels have given their opinions on the senior speech. The question that remains is whether one’s senior speech must be personal and vulnerable in order to be impactful?

It appears that the student body wants to hear about struggles and secrets. They want to know what you have overcome in life and how, and want to be given advice that will help them through their own hardships. 

Freshman Luke Sevin shared his experience as an audience member from the pews, saying, “I had only heard about the senior speech this year, and it is something I have begun to look forward to.” 

This time in chapel is an important time for students to put themselves in the seniors’ shoes, and prepare themselves for their own future. Seniors have important knowledge to share, and these speeches, if done with passion, have the power to impact people. 

When it comes down to it, seniors have lived their high school lives and have experiences that every freshman, sophomore, and junior have not yet experienced. They are people you can look up to, and learn from. Use this time in chapel to take their words into true consideration and act on them. If you listen closely, they have the power to touch your heart.