How to Write a Farewell Graduation Speech

by Gina Ragusa ; Updated September 28, 2017

Whether you are winding down your elementary, middle school, high school or college career, the farewell graduation speech is an important component to the graduation ceremony. If school administrators have asked you to write a farewell speech, think about what has inspired you over the years and what is motivating you to work toward success in the future. Design a speech that will appeal to the masses—both the graduates and their families—and draw upon personal experiences to use as examples. Remember to thank your educators and honor your school before saying goodbye.

Step 1

Make a list of school-wide accomplishments that have had a significant impact on the graduating class through the years. Recall sports or academic victories, a student who overcame odds and changes you’ve witnessed at the school and within the community during your attendance.

Recall plans fellow students have communicated to you—do you have students planning to attend an Ivy League school in the fall or students who have landed promising jobs?

Use this list as a springboard to shape the outline of your speech. You don’t have to mention these exact examples of recollections in your speech but use them to generate inspirational thoughts and words.

Step 2

Write the introduction. Meet your audience with a famous quote that embodies your speech’s theme. Acknowledge the honor of speaking and the pride you feel for your class. Summarize or state the goals you intend to cover in your speech. Discuss how you’ll communicate your main message by touching on the graduates’ past, present and future.

Step 3

Craft the body of the speech. The body should include the three main points—past, present and future. Begin by reminiscing about where the class started, new to the school and unsure about the future. Identify accomplishments class members or groups made early on and what the graduates learned in school.

Move into present time. Relate how the past has built each student to be the leaders you see before you today. Remind students of events and milestones that they achieved over the years and how the time together in school has prepared each student for a bright future.

As you ease into discussing the future, linger in the present and quantify it as the springboard into the coming years of success. Discuss how the tools and lessons graduates learned through the years will support the classes’ success in the future. Recall significant events occurring within the school, community, nation and world today and how those events will impact your lives, years down the road.

Step 4

Conclude the speech on a positive note. Summarize each key point you made throughout the speech and re-address your initial goal. Thank school staff and key administrators before concluding your speech.


  • Practice your speech delivery several times before the big day—you want to remain within the given time frame and monitor your speaking so that you don’t talk too fast.

    Add props to your speech—a slideshow of your fellow graduates through the years could be playing behind you.

    When writing your speech, use your own words. Write from the heart, and don’t add words you wouldn’t use in normal, everyday conversation to make it sound more important. The school chose you to deliver the speech because people want to hear what you have to say.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/ Images

About the Author

Gina Ragusa has made a career out of writing for the past 15 years, with an emphasis on financial institution writing. Ragusa has written for Consumer Lending News, Deposit and Loan Growth Strategies and Community Bank President. She earned her Bachelor of Arts from Michigan State University.