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Aaron Vance isn’t taking his job as commencement speaker lightly. As Vance put it, he’s spending his last days of high school “thinking about the words that will push us into life.”
Each of the three Hardin County Schools high schools and Elizabethtown High School choose students to speak at the graduation ceremony. For those students, their last days of high school include the additional component of crafting words that will add meaning to their classmates’ time in school and cheer them on as they move to the next phase of their lives.
Vance will be speaking because he was elected class president at North Hardin High School. He’s honored to be sharing thoughts of graduation with his classmates, he said.
“That’s kind of the last thing you’ll remember about graduation,” he said.
K.J. Hall is the senior class president at Central Hardin High School. One of the reasons Hall wanted the position was because she would be giving the speech. Both of her parents spoke at their high school graduations and she wanted to continue the tradition.
Hall has been turning in drafts of her speech to senior sponsor Pam Ross since January. At that time, graduation still seemed far off, but having to contemplate the topics of her speech made her realize it was just months away.
“I think it made it seem more real,” she said.
John Hardin High School chooses a graduation speaker through an audition process in which students prepare and give a speech to a committee. Zachary Puckett was chosen as the speaker earlier this month.
“It’s actually something I’ve wanted to do since I got beat out for it in eighth grade,” Puckett said. The student who gave the speech at Bluegrass Middle School came in second to Puckett.
Puckett said he’s worked to make the speech both personal and accessible to all of the graduates. He’s not nervous yet, he said.
“Right now I’m more excited than anything,” he said.
Elizabethtown High School chooses their speaker through several faculty members and administrators as well, but the selection is kept a secret from the students until graduation night.