4 High School Graduation Speech Samples That Inspire

Get ready to motivate and inspire your fellow grads with our example speeches you can use as inspo to craft your own.

Updated April 17, 2024
Graduated students happy to get diplomas

You made it to your senior year! And the next step in your life is graduation. Congrats on being chosen to speak for your class on the big day. While public speaking can be a bit intimidating, we know you have what it takes to do an awesome job. All you need is a little inspo for your high school graduation speech. 

Not to worry. We have your back. So take a deep breath, check out our high school graduation speech examples and tips, and get ready to wow your classmates, faculty, and families. You've totally got this. 

Sample Speeches for High School Graduation

While you probably won't want to use these speeches exactly, they're definitely a great place to start. Use our sample graduation speeches to help inspire your own creativity. Click to download and edit them for your own use. If you have any trouble downloading, please review the troubleshooting guide.

Helpful Hack

If you like the style or sentiment of a particular speech, think of how it applies to your own high school experience, and use that as the basis for an original speech of your own.

Sample One: How We'll Measure These Years

You're not the same group of people you were in your freshman year. And our first sample is a speech that talks about how things have changed over your high school years.

My fellow students, we only arrived here four short years ago, and now it's already time to leave. How did it all go so fast? It seems like only yesterday that we were skinny little freshmen fighting with the locks on our lockers, trying to figure out where our next class was, and looking generally clueless to all the upperclassmen. Now, we are the upperclassmen — the seniors who stand here ready to graduate and move forward in the world. Yet at this seminal moment, we can't help looking back. 

How do we measure the time we've spent in high school? In the beginning, we measured it in class periods, counting down the day to eventual freedom. As the days and weeks passed, we measured it in semesters and later in years as we moved from being those clueless freshmen to becoming sophisticated sophomores who thought they had it all figured out. By the time we reached our junior year, we were confident that we were prepared to take over for the graduating seniors, and we couldn't wait to "rule the school." 

And now here we stand. Our rule is over, and it's up to the next class to step into our shoes and take over. I know that as I look out at all of you, I will measure my time here in a much different way. I will measure it in all the friendships I've enjoyed these last four years. Some were pretty casual, and others were much closer, but I'll remember each one fondly, as I'm sure you all will, too. And when many of our high school memories begin to fade, that's how we'll ultimately measure the time we spent here, not in periods or semesters or years, but in the friendships that we made and the times we shared together. 

Congratulations my fellow graduates of the class of (Insert year). Wherever we go and whatever we do, may we always be friends when we meet again. 

Sample Two: The Future Is in Our Hands

The second example focuses more on what the future holds for a high school graduate.

We stand here today on the precipice of the future. It's not a distant reality anymore. It begins here. It begins today. 

We began high school as children, but we're leaving here as adults. We've completed a basic education that will serve as the platform we use to launch ourselves into our futures. Some of us will go on to college, and others will go straight into the workforce, but each of us will travel our own path. 

No matter where we go or what we do, there are challenges ahead of us. What I'm asking from each of you, and from myself, is to meet those challenges straight on with our heads held high and our hearts wide open. It's not enough to simply try to get by in life. That doesn't move the world forward. We must try to excel in everything we do; strive for excellence in every task, large or small. 

Although it may not be easy to see, every accomplishment we achieve is added to the world's accomplishments. Our individual successes benefit society as a whole because when we succeed, we lighten the burden on our fellow man. When we succeed, we are in a position to give rather than take. 

Imagine if every individual lived up to their own potential. Think about how amazing that would be, and how much better off the world would be. Now imagine if just half of those individuals lived up to their potential. The world would still be an awesome place. If even 1/4 of those individuals worked to make their lives successful, they could still make some amazing contributions to society. 

Well, we may not have the power to inspire the entire world to strive for success, but we do have the power to try to achieve it for ourselves. My challenge to each of you and to myself is to do all that we can to reach our full potential. If each of the (Insert number) students in this graduating class is able to do that, just imagine the effect that would have. The future is truly in our hands, so let's make the most of it. 

Thank you.

Sample Three: A Debt of Gratitude

Nobody's accomplishments are 100% their own—there's always someone there to provide support, inspiration, and motivation. The third sample is about giving thanks to those who have helped everyone successfully graduate from high school.

I'd like to welcome everyone to this solemn and joyous occasion. It has been a long four years, but here we are, ready to graduate. We worked hard to get to this point, but we didn't do it by ourselves. 

We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the following people. To our teachers, thank you for so unselfishly sharing your time, talent, and knowledge with us. Yes, we know it was your job to do it, but what you did for us went beyond the call of duty. You took the time to explain assignments, sometimes repeatedly because we weren't paying attention. You allowed us to come to your classroom after school for extra help when you could have gone home to spend time with your family. You put in the effort to make lessons more interesting so we wouldn't just tune out. You demanded excellence from us whether or not we wanted to give it. You set the bar high and challenged us to live up to it. 

To our parents, thank you for supporting us in more ways than it's possible to count. You dragged us out of bed each morning and made sure we were fed and clothed for school. You herded us out the door to the bus stop or drove us to school yourselves. You helped us with homework, paid our class fees, and listened to our complaints. You came to our plays, attended our sporting events, and chaperoned our dances. You commiserated over our daily dramas, but you tried to give us enough space to learn how to work things out for ourselves. These are just a few of the thousands of ways you've supported us on our journey. 

To our coaches and advisors, thank you for making school about more than just classwork. Through sports, we learned how to power on through adversity and give it our best effort, win or lose. We learned the importance of discipline and good sportsmanship. Through other activities like participating in clubs, school plays, and service projects, we learned how to work closely with others to achieve a common goal, and we had a lot of fun doing it. 

To our custodial staff and lunchroom attendants, thank you for keeping our school clean and safe. You know better than anyone else what slobs we've been. You actually deserve some kind of medal. 

To our principal, vice principal, and all the office staff, thank you for keeping things running smoothly so our teachers could concentrate on us. We're better off for it. 

To our guidance counselors, thank you for listening and trying to keep us on the right track for graduation. Without your help, some of us might not be graduating today. 

As you can see, behind each graduate there must have been at least a dozen people providing support in at least a dozen ways. The best way we graduates can show our gratitude is to make the most of the opportunity we've been given and go forward into the world with the intention of making it a better place for the generations that follow us. We'll pay that debt of gratitude forward. 

Thank you.

Sample Four: Inspirational Moments for Life

You're getting ready to head out into the world as adults. Adulting can be hard, but you'll find all the inspiration you need inside yourself. This last sample speech is an inspirational high school graduation speech that asks each student to look back on some of the moments from high school that will inspire them forever.

While the last four years were filled with friends, classes, teachers, and work, there were also tiny inspirations hiding in plain sight. In those moments, we were too busy, too distracted, too young to notice them. As we take a retrospective look at our high school years, I hope we will all see them clearly now. 

Close your eyes and imagine, if you will, that one thing that one teacher said to you that didn’t mean much at the time, but means something now. If you can’t hear it, think harder. This is one of your inspirational moments from high school.

Now, imagine that one scary moment with that one friend inside the school walls. Think about how you both acted and how it all turned out. If you can’t see it, think harder. This is one of your inspirational moments from high school. 

Imagine, one more time, that time when you felt so proud of yourself. Think about what you accomplished and how you did it for yourself. If you can’t feel it, think harder. This is one of your inspirational moments from high school. 

The most amazing things happen in high school when we least expect them. Although we're different people with different lives, we all experience these inspirational moments that happened in high school and stay with us for life. As we look toward our future, I encourage you to take time and look for these moments. They’ll be your inspiration for life. 

Example of a Humorous Valedictorian Speech

The following video offers a great example of a graduation speech that really speaks to the graduates while being humorous, appropriate, and entertaining. If you have a natural gift for humor, a funny speech like this will be remembered long after other graduation memories have begun to fade.

Tips for Writing a Graduation Speech

Whether you're writing a speech for your homeschool graduation, as the class Valedictorian, or as a graduation thank you speech, there are a few tips for speech writing that can make your talk meaningful and memorable.

Related: Inspirational Graduation Speeches and Themes

Know Your Audience

Even though parents, faculty, and members of the community will be on hand, the focus of your speech should be your classmates. Speak to them!

Grab Their Attention

A good speech grabs the audience's attention and never lets it go. Start off with an attention-grabbing question or a humorous first line, or make a strong statement that provokes curiosity about where the speech is going. Feel free to add appropriate humor liberally. Having a theme for the speech is also helpful.

Tell Stories

Don't just read your speech. Tell your speech by interspersing emotional stories that tug at the heartstrings or inspire positive actions for the future. You might even want to include an original poem to help express your feelings.

Include Everyone

Don't just speak to the academic achievers, sports stars, or popular crowd. Your topic should be all inclusive of your graduating class.

Keep It Short, but Not Too Short

Knowing how long a high school graduation speech should be is important before you start writing. Student speeches at high school graduations are generally between five and 10 minutes long, but closer to five is ideal.

End With a Memorable Message

High school graduation speeches by students and special guests often end with a memorable and actionable sentence that encourages the audience to do something great. It's customary to end by saying, "Thank you" in your graduation speech, which you can do after your memorable one-liner.

Don't Wear Out Your Welcome

A really great commencement speech is enjoyed, not simply endured. Put some serious thought into your speech, say something meaningful, and stick to your topic so your message doesn't get lost. Above all, don't talk too long. Remember that everyone wants to receive their diplomas, shed those caps and gowns, and get on with the celebration.

4 High School Graduation Speech Samples That Inspire