A Tam High teacher skips the
rap lyrics and delivers a heartfelt
graduation speech focusing on
Sooner or later we all have to make a speech. Some people rise to the occasion more than others.
My first speech was at a friend’s wedding when I was in my 20s. I decided to talk about fantasy football
and bombed spectacularly. So last year, when the Tam High senior class elected me to be their faculty
speaker at graduation, I knew what to do. I said no. I’m comfortable talking in front of a few dozen
kids. But closing out a ceremony in front of 2,000 people? I’m no headliner! Besides, I heard the guy the
year before had killed it by integrating Drake’s rap lyrics into his speech. How was I going to top that?
With the encouragement of some of my students, however, I relented and delivered the address. On the
following pages you will find the text of my speech, along with some metacognitive looks into my writing
process. I’ll let you decide if I should have gone with my instincts and sat this one out.
Fly to BY JONAH STEINHART ILLUSTRATION BY ROBERT NEUBECKER