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Voxitatis Verbo de Verbo Project
Putting high school graduation speeches online ...
A window into our great schools; an inspiration for the nation!

Direct Link: Speaker Speech Input
Note: Principal comments are no longer being accepted.

We believe well-spoken graduates of a high school are at least one of the primary sources for information about that school. Here we have set out to collect their words—not in a competitive or comparative way, but with a cooperative intent, so that we all may learn from the vast experiences shared by these young men and women who have begun a lifelong journey of discovery and happiness.

What is Verbo de Verbo?

The phrase verbo de verbo is a Latin idiom meaning “word for word.” Chicago Voxitatis is committed to presenting the most accurate and up-to-date picture possible about our schools, and we feel that an actual speech of a student who has graduated is the best place to start.

Usually, the words spoken at graduation reflect the hopes of most of the students in the graduating class. This, in turn, shines a light on the school and how it nurtures its students and enriches their lives. In addition, graduation speakers often talk about some of the goings-on at the school during the course of their four-year stint, yielding an abbreviated but accurate "snapshot" of student life at the high school.

Why do we like graduation?

We focus a lot of our energy on graduation. That's because a school's output is much more important than its input. In fact, schools often have very little control over what students enter the school. If the school is a public, neighborhood high school, it is required to accept those students who live in the neighborhood. However, the same is not true for graduation. Schools don't have to give everybody a diploma, and the students who accomplish this say a great deal about the quality of the school.

Yet high school dropout rates, which have been in the news this past year (mainly because different states can't seem to agree on how dropouts should be counted), are a perennial challenge for this nation. In the news recently, the state of California reported that although its statewide dropout rate fell by 1 percent for the 2007-08 school year, one in four Hispanic students and one in three black students quit school without making it to graduation (link).

People who drop out of high school before making it to graduation, we also believe, have a tendency to lead unhappier lives than those who walk across the stage to get their diploma. In a 2006 study, Terence P. Thornberry, Melanie Moore, and R. L. Christenson found that dropping out of high school leads to a greater tendency to commit crime in adulthood. Scientific studies are always finding new things and may refute these findings one day, but anecdotal evidence also suggests that it's a pretty big deal to make it to graduation. See the Alliance for Excellent Education, here, for instance.

In April, America's Promise Alliance issued a report that showed that the graduation rate was lower than 50 percent in 17 of the nation's 50 largest cities. Former secretary of state Colin Powell is the founding chair of the alliance. "When more than one million students a year drop out of high school, it's more than a problem; it's a catastrophe," he said.

Did you speak at your graduation?

If you spoke at your high school graduation, we invite you to post your speech on our forum, where you will join other speakers from around the country. Because we are located in Illinois and know the Illinois high schools better than those in other states, we have concentrated our efforts within Illinois. However, graduation speakers from anywhere in the country are welcome to post their speeches on our forum. Our page for student speakers is here.

To spark your interest, we are running a contest about the speeches we publish. Briefly, here's how it works: Between 12:00 AM Pacific Time, June 15, and 11:59 PM Pacific Time, July 14, we will tally the number of unique IP addresses that read your speech. If your speech gets the most unique hits during that time, you'll win $400; second place, $300; third place, $200; and fourth place, $100. Multiple hits from the same IP address will only be counted once (usually all the computers on a school network will have the same IP address).

Although many speeches and comments will be published on this website from a wide variety of people, this is not a site where you just type it in and we post it. We actually do some editing (fixing punctuation, spelling, etc.) and we make sure you are who you say you are (not a robot or a computer spammer). We do our due diligence to make sure everything’s on the up-and-up.

When the speeches or comments are finally published on our website, the authors retain all copyright interests. Voxitatis publishes the speech pursuant to a limited, nonexclusive license, and prior to our posting of your speeches, you (or your legal guardian, if you're under 18) will have to agree to allow us to publish your work. All that takes a little time as well.

Once you put your speech into our system, we will send you an email to confirm that we got it within about 24 hours. When you respond to the email to acknowledge your acceptance of our use of your copyrighted material, we will get your speech formatted for the website as soon as possible. More information about our editing practices are available here.

What speeches and comments have been collected so far?

This is the first year for the Verbo de Verbo project. As a result, no speeches have been published yet. We extend an invitation to every high school with a graduating senior class throughout the United States. There are almost 20,000 schools, and we look forward to hearing from every one of them soon.

During the course of the early summer, graduation speeches will be posted and linked to this page and to our home page as they are formatted for the Web and the speakers have agreed to the terms of the use license.

And since we have no intention of stealing the thunder of our esteemed graduates in the Class of 2009, the first speeches from this year won't be available to the public before June 15, 2009.

What's in the future for Verbo de Verbo?

In the future, we will add extensive search capabilities as well as data analysis tools for the graduation speeches in the collection. Some of these tools may include, for example, the ability to determine how many speakers in 2008 used the word "love" in their address.

In addition to adding tools to our site, we also are keeping an open mind. We know that the individuals contributing to the site may have suggestions for improvement or even development into new areas of functionality. Graduation speakers are a small and rather diverse bunch of individuals, and a community may form on our site or on some other site based on the publication of their words here.

I actually don't know where it will go. Not one word on the pages will be my own, so if I could have imagined where it would go, I would have taken it there already.

Thanks for reading this page and for the contributions of your ideas. Congratulations to the 3.01 million students who will graduate from public high schools this year (based on a projection by the National Center for Education Statistics), the thousands more who will graduate from other high schools, and to their teachers.