Graduation is a wonderful ceremony that acts as the final chapter of the high school experience, in addition to being the passage into the next step of life for the graduates. The welcome address is an important speech; it sets the tone for the rest of the ceremony and helps inspire the graduates and their families.

Give Thanks

A great way to immediately establish trust with your audience is to verbalize the very deserved thanks to all in attendance. You’ll not only be thanking the graduates but parents, teachers, relatives and friends for coming out in support of a valued and important ceremony. Make sure your thanks are amiable and accessible. This kind gesture will set the tone for the entire speech.

Praise The School

Explain what is so important and unique about the high school the students just graduated from. Whether this is by discussing tradition, civic and cultural influence or otherwise, the better light the high school is painted in, the better all in attendance will feel about what they’re a part of. Whether you contextualize the importance of the high school in reference to a town, city, state or the United States at large, your ability to connect the school with the greater educational good will be valued.

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Be Concise

Even though the welcome address is an important and essential part of the high school graduation, don’t forget that it is meant to start things off and not become the focus. Be as concise and clear as possible and once you’ve made a point, like the fact that three students will be attending Harvard in the fall, move on with efficiency. Choose your words wisely by including vocabulary that's as informative and clear as possible. Don’t say something in a paragraph that can be stated in a sentence.


Include a point that is sure to inspire the graduates. Whether you are quoting Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Virginia Wolff or other notables, remind the graduates and all in attendance that great women and men continue to prove that one person can fundamentally change the world for the better. For many, graduating from high school provides a springboard for success, and a reminder of that can help inspire the students to move forward toward a bright future.

About the Author

Jake Shore is an award-winning Brooklyn-based playwright, published short story writer and professor at Wagner College. His short fiction has appeared in many publications including Litro Magazine, one of London's leading literary magazines. Shore earned his MFA in creative writing from Goddard College.