Valedictorian Speakers Represent the Senior Class
by Iladro Sauls on Friday, June 7th, 2013This morning, two seniors, Olivia Atwood (I) and Harry Wood (I), addressed the community in their valedictory speeches. Each year, members of the senior class nominate themselves to be valedictorian speakers. This process differs from many other schools: valedictorian speakers are typically selected on the basis of class rank or GPA. Milton candidates, however, write two-minute speeches specifically for the purpose of being “elected” to the valedictorian position. The boy and girl who receive the most votes from their classmates are asked to speak as valedictorians on graduation day.
Both very accomplished members of Milton’s speech team, this year’s valedictorian speakers, Olivia and Harry, have proven themselves to be two of the most eloquent speakers at Milton. Last year, both Olivia and Harry qualified for speech nationals, held in Indianapolis, Indiana, in the category “Humorous Interpretation,” where they made judges laugh with 10-minute memorized performances of a written comedic work.
In past years, selected valedictorian speakers have often participated in extracurricular activities, frequently the arts and performance, during their time at Milton. Students in these groups are often well-spoken and confident performers: perfect valedictorian speaker material. Throughout their high school careers, Olivia and Harry have taken on leading roles in these groups with gusto.
Olivia Atwood has complimented her time at Milton by participating in various extracurricular activities. In addition to being a member of the Milton Speech Team since 2006, she has taken on roles of leadership and responsibility, such as editing the “Arts and Entertainment” section of the Milton Measure and working as a class councilor for her fellow Class I students. Olivia has also starred in a plethora of plays during her time at Milton, including Lady Dracula and The 21st Annual Putnam Country Spelling Bee. Now in her senior spring at Milton, Olivia remains witty and humorous as always: when asked why she wished to be valedictorian for her class, Olivia replied, “My family wanted good seats at graduation. Also, I stink at goodbyes, so I was like, hey, I’ll do one huge one and then drive off into the sunset.” Olivia says that what she will miss most at Milton are “snack bar tater tots and warm cookies. Those things saved my life.” Olivia doesn’t want to give away too much about her speech: “All I can say is this: elephants, Nerf guns, and Mr. Ball. ‘Nuff said.”
To say that Harry Wood has some experience with the performing arts may be the understatement of the century. This co-captain of Milton’s speech team is nationally recognized for his work in humorous interpretation and original oratory. Just two weeks ago, Harry, in a performance at nationals in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was recognized as the second-best humorous interpretation performer in the nation. Harry says that he is very thankful he found his place in speech at Milton. “Honestly, I think I love it so much because it’s a gateway to so much else. It’s helped my classes, my writing, my theater, but most of all, just my general confidence and ability to interact with people.” Harry has also been involved in many activities while at Milton, writing for the Humor section of The Milton Paper, performing in a production almost every season, and singing with the Miltones, Milton’s all-male acapella group, melting the hearts of girls who heard him sing the Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way.”
When asked why he wished to be a valedictorian speaker, Harry replied, “I’ve felt a lot like this class has been a big part of my development as a person over the last few years. I’ve grown a lot since I came here, and learned a lot, and I wanted to give something back. I felt like the best thing I could do for my class was try and impart with them some advice as we head off to do new things.” Concerning his speech, the only thing he will give away is “I use a prop. That’s all I’ll give you.”
Harry says that what he will miss the most next year is “just the safety of this place. I’ve never felt as comfortable being myself as I have at Milton. Everyone – teachers, students, everyone – accepts people for who they are here. I’m sure I’ll find it somewhere else, but it’s the thing I value most about this place.”
Valedictorian speeches are always one of students’ and adults’ favorite parts of Milton’s graduation ceremonies – Olivia’s and Harry’s are most certainly no exception.
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