Being the valedictorian of your high school class is a huge honor, and one that you can proudly put on resumes and internship applications for years to come. It does, however, come with a small challenge attached: giving a speech to your entire graduating class, their families, and whomever else might be in the audience. For many a valedictorian, this will be the most nerve-wracking and stress inducing part of graduation.
There are many routes to a successful graduation speech, however, and there really is no wrong way to do it so long as its sincere. Some choose to make their speeches inspiring and moving while others aim to get their fellow students to laugh until their sides hurt. Here, we've collected some of the top graduation speeches on YouTube, so you can hear the inspirational, silly, strange, and even crazy things some valedictorians have chosen to include in their speeches. It may inspire you to write your own amazing, YouTube-worthy speech or if even if you're not so inclined, it will show you that public speaking isn't all that bad.
A Musical Journey Through the High School Experience
This humorous take on a valedictorian speech will take you through the high school experience with a little musical accompaniment to keep you entertained and more than a few silly quips and quotes. Don't miss out on the hilarious metaphor comparing the dating world to applying to college — it's particularly apt.
Ralph Nguyen's Funny Graduation Speech:
Awkward, funny, and ultimately sincere, this speech has all the ingredients that make for a truly memorable valedictorian speech. Currently at Stanford, Nguyen showcases the high school experience with wit, solid one-liners, and self-deprecating jokes that kept his audience laughing and engaged.
Booker T. Washington High grad Deonte Bridges' Valedictorian speech
If humor really isn't your thing when it comes to valedictorian speeches, then check out this inspirational gem from Booker T. Washington High in 2010. In it, Deonte Bridges explains the many hardships he had to overcome to make it where he is today, including the tragic death of his brother. Emotional, heartfelt, and incredibly inspiring, Bridges' speech will make you want to work harder and be a better student.
Alaine Caudle Valedictorian Speech at Doniphan West High School
It takes some guts to give a speech in front of hundreds of your peers and their families, but it takes even more guts to rap that same speech. And that's just what valedictorian Alaine Caudle does, delivering her speech in rhyme form, so catchy that her classmates can't help to clap along. A truly memorable speech that will have you smiling from start to finish.
East Jermaine High School Graduation Speech
One part valedictorian speech and one part stand-up comedy routine, this speech is sure to leave you laughing. With references to tassels as "strange cat toys" and encouragement to the staff to play "Freebird" instead of "Pomp and Circumstance", the speech is packed with humor. Yet it's also a sincere look back at the high school years and towards the future that will likely leave you inspired and ready to tackle those much-hyped college years.
Wooten High School Graduation Speech
This high school grad would like to thank his parents, teachers, friends, and … Chipotle? Throughout his speech, he brings back references to this fast-food burrito place. It sounds bizarre, but somehow it works, with humor and wit, and makes for one unforgettable valedictorian speech.
Pokemon Graduation Speech
Looking for some inspiration to write your own speech? This example will show you that inspiration can come from, well, anywhere. This valedictorian equates the abilities of Pokemon to that of high school students, starting off as small and weak and growing through experience and practice into formidable opponents. The metaphor may be a silly one, but it does make sense (we promise) and his fellow classmates are unlikely to ever look at Pikachu the same way again.
Autistic Student's Inspirational Graduation Speech
While Eric Duquette isn't technically a valedictorian (he is the salutatorian), we couldn't resist including this speech on the list. Eric has autism and for the first five years of his life, couldn't say a word. With hard work and help from his parents and his teachers, Eric emerged one of the top students in his high school class. If his speech doesn't put a tear in your eye, you might just have a heart of stone.
Lady Gaga Disney Hall Valedictorian Speech
It's probably fair to say that this graduating student is a little obsessed with Lady Gaga. Citing her as the real reason he chose to go to Columbia College, he moves through the speech, drawing on her life and her quotes to inspire and entertain his classmates. It begins on a humorous note, but is ultimately inspiring and heartfelt, hitting all the right notes.
Brandon Rizario Valedictorian Speech
This speech is a pretty good example of how not to give a valedictorian speech. It has its funny moments, but also includes some pretty offensive racial and ethnic slurs that landed this speech giver on the front page of his local paper — perhaps not the kind of recognition his parents would have liked.