The best of us: Commencement speakers show dedication to their school and community


Taylor Salmon is one of two students chosen to speak at the 2019 commencement ceremony on June 6 at Monterey Stadium.

Davi Holmquist, Adviser

There are many things that make Craig High School unique, from our annual Honor Wall ceremony to our show choir to our PRIDES program.

Another unique aspect of our school is in how we select our speakers for commencement.

Many schools put forward their valedictorians, those students who are ranked number one. Being the commencement speaker is seen as one of the rewards for their academic achievement.

But Craig doesn’t follow that convention.

Instead, we hold auditions for our commencement speaker.

Any graduating senior may apply to speak to his or classmates and community at commencement.

Their only qualification is to be on track tor graduation.

It makes sense. As a school that strives for inclusion, Craig stands to give every student an equal chance to shine.

This year, four students applied to be the commencement speaker: Taylor Salmon, Ben Lippincott, Timothy Fisher and Bethany Laatsch.

As a member of the selection committee, I was present for the auditions along with Dr. Bjoin, Mrs. Hilbelink and the four senior class officers: Sierra Lopez, Jasper Rutherford, Tejas Patel and Sam Smith.

In order to avoid conflict with AP testing and to give the selected candidate enough time for speech practice and polish, auditions were held on Thursday, May 2.

Every speech we heard was outstanding, and every speaker presented a speech worthy of the ceremony.

We faced a difficult decision.

In the end, we selected two speakers, Ben Lippincott and Taylor Salmon.

In years past, we have had two speeches, so this is nothing new.

This year, the school board representative will not speak, so that spot program is open. Also, the speeches selected offer unique perspectives on this special occasion.

Taylor’s speech will take students on a journey through their high school years, and it uses the words teachers and adults commonly say to humorously and poignantly capture the significance of graduation.

Ben’s speech will encourage students to notice the good in the world and to be open to change and to new experiences.

Both speeches capture the moment in unique ways. Taylor’s words instill confidence and pride, and Ben’s encourage freedom and openness.

The speeches of the candidates who were not selected were unique and memorable as well. That is why we will publish them on our website as well as our senior print issue. The committee feels that they deserve an audience as well.

The speech of Timothy Fisher makes a stirring personal statement about the struggles he has overcome on his road of life and thanks those who helped him along the way.

His speech urges classmates to know that they will take many roads in their lives–roads with hills and valleys, spots rough and smooth, twists and turns–but as long as they keep moving forward, they will find success. He asks his classmates to “be encouragers” for each other, just as other people were encouragers for him.

Bethany’s speech, written with her customary skill and voice, uses humor and even gets some eye rolls with her recognizable statement about how all seniors have to endure the same question of “What will you do next?”

Her speech, like Taylor’s, offers a trip though the days of high school that students will always remember and to be strengthened by their common experience.

These students represent the best of us. They showed their commitment to Craig High School by their willingness to put themselves forward and speak about what made their high school experience significant.

They took a risk in showing their hearts and sharing their perspectives knowing that they might not be selected.

They even came to school an hour early to audition.

On behalf of the selection committee and the Craig community, I give these four seniors a huge thank you for taking the time to audition. I also give them my full respect for their effort!

Best of luck to them and to all of our graduating seniors!