Sen. Tim Kaine launches “Everybody’s the Graduation Speaker” video contest

Shawn Nowlin

Submitted photo
Sen. Tim Kaine announcing the rules that high school seniors need to follow to participate in the video contest from his home.

Senator Tim Kaine wants to give every high school senior a chance to submit a video of an original speech they would like to give at graduation. After launching the “Everybody’s the Graduation Speaker” video contest on April 22, Kaine said, “One of the many groups of Virginians I’ve been thinking about during this challenging time is the Class of 2020 graduates, many of whom won’t have the graduation experience they’ve been planning for a long time.”

COVID-19 has taken so much away from the approximately 100,000 seniors in Virginia’s Class of 2020. When asked what has been the biggest adjustment she’s had to make to close out her senior year, Salem High student Ahlea Cobbs said, “Without question, it would be being confined to my house. I never really had that last day to spend with everyone. Knowing that I’ll likely never see some of my classmates again is truly heartbreaking.”

Kaine said he is looking forward to watching all of the speeches that graduates submit. The “best of the best” speeches will be selected by Kaine and his office in late May and featured on the Senator’s Facebook page and website.

Graduating from high school is a significant milestone in one’s life. Because in-person graduations will likely be postponed or canceled due to the coronavirus, the community has found creative ways to honor local seniors. Throughout the City of Salem, numerous front yard signs exist congratulating Spartans, who are about to start the next chapter of their lives. On Main Street, in the parking lot of the Salem Times Register, a huge billboard sign honoring Glenvar High seniors can be found.

If Shauna Wright could have anybody speak at her graduation, it would be her ACE family because, as she put it, “they have taught me so much over the last four years at Salem High.” Said Wright, “It’s hard to say goodbye to Salem and the people I’ve met along the way. But I know that in the end, it’ll all be worth it.”

Interested students should film videos of speeches that are 10 minutes or less and submit them to by May 15.

“I wanted to do something fun and give all high school seniors the chance to be a graduation speaker. I look forward to hearing the wisdom Virginia’s future leaders have to offer and sharing their inspiration with others,” said Kaine, who served as Virginia’s Governor from 2006 to 2010.

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