12 Perfect Examples of Salutatorian Speech

A salutatorian speech is an oration given by the salutatorian, the second-highest-ranking student in a graduating class, during a graduation ceremony.

It is delivered after the valedictorian’s speech – the valedictorian being the student with the highest academic ranking. It can be given at different levels of education – including elementary, high school, or college. 

The purpose of the speech is to reflect on your academic journey, share personal experiences, and offer words of encouragement to the audience. You should also use this opportunity to celebrate accomplishments and express gratitude to the teachers and parents. Also, include inspirational words for your peers as they embark on the next phase of their lives. Note that the speech addresses the graduating class (fellow colleagues), families, and the faculty. Therefore, it should be formal and uplifting while discussing themes like perseverance, growth, community, and the value of education.   

This article will look into the intricacies of a salutatorian speech by breaking down the basic outline into its essential components and also offer tips on how to deliver an excellent speech.  We have provided examples of salutatorian speeches to guide you in creating one for your graduation. The examples are customizable to provide a starting point to make it convenient for you to prepare your speech.   


Free Salutatorian Speech Template
Editable Salutatorian Speech Example
Printable Salutatorian Speech Format
Downloadable Salutatorian Speech Sample"
Word Salutatorian Speech Template
Customizable Salutatorian Speech Example
    Free Elementary School Salutatorian Speech Template
    Editable Salutatorian Speech Example for Elementary School
    Printable Elementary School Salutatorian Speech Format
    Downloadable Elementary School Salutatorian Speech Sample
    Word Elementary School Salutatorian Speech Template
    Customizable Salutatorian Speech Example for Elementary School

      Understanding the Impact of a Salutatorian Speech on the Graduation Experience 

      A salutatorian speech can significantly impact the graduation experience for both you and the audience. If well crafted, it can leave a lasting impact on the audience. Here is an exploration of how a salutatorian speech can influence the graduation experience:

      • A well-delivered salutatorian speech celebrates your academic achievements, which form a basis for encouragement and inspiration to fellow graduates and a positive outlook for the future. Also, by reflecting on your triumphs and failures, the speech serves as evidence that success is attainable and cultivates a sense of pride in your fellow graduates.
      • The speech often includes reflections on shared experiences and challenges faced by the class. It fosters a sense of unity and nostalgia as you and your classmates reminisce about your journey together. You can discuss your collective efforts and achievements to establish this connection further.
      • A graduation can be an emotional and overwhelming event for many students. Therefore, you should use your speech to acknowledge any mixed emotions, such as excitement, anxiety, and uncertainty about the future your fellow graduates may be feeling. After this acknowledgment, reassure your classmates that it is normal to have doubts and fears.
      • Expressing gratitude is a central theme of many salutatorian speeches. Therefore, thank your teachers, parents, mentors, and peers who have supported and guided you throughout your educational journey. Highlight their role in your success, growth, and shared memories. This cultivates a sense of gratitude among your peers and audience.
      • A well-crafted salutatorian speech can leave a lasting legacy within the school. It sets a good example for future salutators and students. It can inspire students in junior classes to assume leadership and oratory roles in their respective classes. To do so, use the speech as an account of the hard work and dedication of the graduating class.

      Outline of a Salutatorian Speech 

      The outline provides a structured framework for a salutatorian speech. It incorporates key elements to document your academic journey as you engage and inspire your audience while expressing gratitude and reflection.

      Typically, this type of speech will have the following elements:


      The first element is the start of the speech. This section grabs the attention of the audience and prepares them mentally to listen to what you have to say. This section will include the following parts:

      Start with a strong message

      Begin your speech with a powerful, attention-grabbing message that sets the tone for the rest of your oration. You can use a thought-provoking statement, inspirational quote, or an academic-related personal anecdote. This message should encapsulate the essence and theme of your speech.


      Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening, honored guests, faculty, families, and my fellow graduates. Today, we stand at the gateway to our future, ready to embark on a journey filled with endless possibilities.

      Greet the guests to the event & thank everyone for coming to celebrate with you

      In this part, warmly welcome all the guests attending the graduation ceremony. Also, express gratitude for their presence and support.


      I would like to extend a heartfelt welcome to our esteemed guests who have joined us to celebrate this momentous occasion. Your presence here today fills us with immense joy and gratitude.

      Introduce yourself

      Briefly introduce yourself, mentioning your name and acknowledging your role as the salutatorian. You can also concisely state your accomplishments and key points of your academic journey.


      For those who may not know me yet, my name is John Doe, and it is both an honor and a privilege to stand before you today as the salutatorian of our graduating class.


      The body is the second element and the core of the speech. Under this section, thank key figures who have supported and guided you in your academic journey. Also, narrate your main message or theme as you reflect on various experiences, accomplishments, and challenges you have had.

      Ideally, this section will discuss the following:

      Thank your parents and teachers

      Express your gratitude to the people who have played a significant role in your academic journey, such as parents, teachers, and mentors. Illustrate the sacrifices, love, and encouragement they have offered for you to achieve salutatorian status in your school.


      I want to start by articulating my deepest gratitude to our parents, who have been our unwavering support systems, and to our dedicated teachers, who have imparted knowledge and wisdom with patience and passion. Without your support and input, I would not have had this opportunity to convey my heartfelt gratitude openly. 

      Tell the audience what you will be speaking about

      Provide a brief overview of what your speech will cover. You can choose to focus on reflecting on the past, celebrating achievements, or sending a motivational message. Let the audience know what to expect.


      Today, I would like to share some reflections on our journey in the hope that you can draw lessons from our experiences and apply them in your day-to-day lives. I will also briefly offer words of encouragement and leave you with a message that I hope will stay with you as we move forward.

      Include quotes and personal stories

      Include inspirational quotes or anecdotes from your own experiences that connect with your theme to make your speech relatable and engaging. The quotes can also be from renowned figures such as authors and philosophers. Also, reference stories from your personal and collective experiences to increase the speech’s authenticity.


      As I stand here today, I’m reminded of a quote by James Irvin, who once said, ‘Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success.’ This quote has resonated with me throughout my academic journey.

      Reflect on your journey

      Reflect on the challenges, achievements, and personal growth you and your classmates have experienced during your time in high school or college. Ensure there is a sequence or flow of accounts to make it easy to demonstrate growth and development.


      Our journey at St. John’s High School started in 2018, has been marked by resilience in the face of adversity, triumphs that have filled us with pride, and moments of growth that have shaped us into the individuals we are today. In 2019, I broke my left arm during football practice. However, with the help of my colleagues, I was able to overcome and resume my classes. This taught me the importance of unity and teamwork, the core values in our class. 


      The speech is then concluded with an ending to sum up your key points and deliver the final message you want the audience to retain. This section will typically discuss the following:

      Congratulate your classmates and wish them success in the future 

      Here, congratulate your fellow graduates for successfully completing this academic level. Also, convey your best wishes for their future endeavors.


      Before I conclude, let me take a moment to congratulate each and every one of my classmates. Undoubtedly, you all will achieve remarkable success in your chosen paths.

      Leave them with an impactful message they will remember

      Lastly, finalize your message with a memorable and impactful message that encapsulates the essence of your speech. Leave the audience with something to ponder and motivate them. You can remind them of their ability to overcome challenges or encourage them to pursue their goals. Also, you can include a call to action.


      As we step into the next chapter of our lives, remember that the greatest achievements often arise from the most profound challenges. Embrace every opportunity, learn from every setback, and never lose sight of your dreams. Class of 2023, let’s go out there and create a future that is as remarkable as our shared past.

      pro tip

      The length of the salutatorian speech depends on the specifics of the graduation ceremony. However, it is generally recommended to keep it 5-10 minutes long.

      Tips for Delivering a Good Salutatorian Speech 

      Delivering a good salutatorian speech is essential to leave a positive and lasting impression on your audience. Here are some tips for delivering an effective speech:

      Avoid cliches

      Clichés are overused phrases or ideas that can make your speech sound insincere, unoriginal, and uninspiring. Instead, strive for unique/original and personal/authentic content. Share your own experiences, insights, and perspectives to make your speech stand out and engaging. Avoid common phrases like “reach for the stars” or “the journey begins.”

      Practice your speech

      Practice is the secret to delivering a confident and well-paced speech. Rehearse your speech multiple times to become familiar with the content and flow and ensure that you are comfortable with the material. Last-minute preparations produce a rushed and substandard speech and negatively affect your delivery.  

      Focus on your delivery

      Delivery is just as important as the content of your speech. Pay attention to your tone, pace, and body language. Speak clearly (enunciate words) and with enthusiasm, but avoid rushing or mumbling through your speech. This makes it difficult for the audience to follow and intake the message. Also, use gestures and expressions to emphasize key points.

      Adhere to the time limit

      Most graduation ceremonies have strict time limits for speeches, so staying within your allotted time is crucial. Practice timing yourself during rehearsals to ensure that you do not exceed the time limit. If your speech is too long, consider revising and condensing it while retaining the most important points. This prevents you from disrupting the event schedule or losing the listener’s interest and engagement.  

      Avoid controversial topics

      While expressing your thoughts and opinions or discussing meaningful issues is important, it is advisable to avoid controversial or contentious topics that may alienate or upset your audience. Focus on positive and unifying themes such as gratitude, achievement, and hope for the future. Avoid topics that could lead to disagreements or cause discomfort among attendees.

      Salutatorian Speech Vs. Valedictorian Speech

      Salutatorian and valedictorian speeches serve distinct purposes within a graduation ceremony. The salutatorian speech, delivered by the second-highest-ranking student on behalf of the graduating class, opens the graduation ceremony. This speech welcomes the guests and sets the tone for the rest of the graduation ceremony.

      Contrary, a valedictorian, the highest-ranking student academically, addresses the students. Their speech is given at the end of the event to celebrate individual success and intellectual growth, inspiring a commitment to lifelong learning and personal excellence. Also, valedictorians are awarded graduation robes that distinguish them from other students and sit on stage in the company of administrative staff. However, salutatorians do not sit on stage but may or may not receive separate graduation robes.

      Salutatorians often focus on unity, shared experiences, and collective achievements. Valedictorians reflect on their academic accomplishments, intellectual growth, and the pursuit of knowledge. It is meant to uplift and motivate them to do better and pursue future goals. A salutatorian speech serves to inspire and motivate the graduates, while that of a valedictorian reflects on their academic journey.

      Salutatorians incorporate shared anecdotes and experiences in their speech and will thus use the pronouns – we, our, and us. Conversely, valedictorians incorporate personal reflections and will thus use “I” and “My.” They may mention specific individuals who impacted their academic journey. Lastly, the salutatorian speech aims to display a sense of camaraderie while celebrating collective accomplishments. On the other hand, the valedictorian speech showcases their achievements, intending to inspire the listeners.    

      Bottom Line

      In summary, a salutatorian speech serves as a welcoming and unifying address at the beginning of a graduation ceremony. It aims to inspire, reflect on shared experiences, and express gratitude while setting a positive tone for the event. It reinforces the idea that you and your classmates’ efforts have been worthwhile and translated into something significant. The speech should avoid clichés, be well-practiced, focus on effective delivery, adhere to time limits, and steer clear of controversial topics. To craft an effective speech, you can reference the outline and the examples provided in this article to understand the information you should include and how to structure the entire oration.

      About This Article

      Jake Adams
      Authored by:
      Academic tutoring, learning resources, SAT & ACT prep, college admissions applications
      Jake Adams is an academic tutor and the owner of Simplifi EDU, an online tutoring business based in Santa Monica, California. With over 14 years of professional tutoring experience, Jake is dedicated to providing his clients with the best online tutoring experience. He offers a wide range of academic subjects from K-College, specializing in SAT & ACT prep and college admissions applications. Jake has built a network of exceptional undergraduate and graduate-level tutors from top colleges across the nation. Holding a BS in International Business and Marketing from Pepperdine University, Jake combines his educational background with his expertise to deliver effective and comprehensive tutoring services.

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