Graduation is just days away for high school seniors in the area, but only a select few are prepping their graduation speeches. Many local schools now audition students to speak at commencement, instead of using valedictorians.
These two students, from two different high schools in the same city, are eager to honor their alma maters at graduation.
Lining the halls of Northside High School in Fort Smith are seniors who will soon move on to the next chapters of their lives, including Maddie Linam.
"I'm really just going to miss seeing the friends that I've been with for three years every day in the hallway because I think I've taken it for granted," Linam said.
After an audition process, Linam and three others were chosen to speak at this year’s graduation May 22.
"It was really exciting to be picked for that because it's something I've wanted to do since junior high," Linam said.
The National Honor Society President said she has an important message for her peers.
"Basically my speech is just comparing life to a marathon,” Linam said. “We've trained for so long and now we're finally about to start our race."
Her next step is to pursue a major of chemical engineering with a pre-med option at Oklahoma State University. She said that's where she plans to do research as an undergrad.
Another Fort Smith student going into the research field is Southside High School senior Dylan Wright. This graduation speaker will be attending the University of Arkansas as a pre-med chemistry major.
"I wanted to be part of this area,” Wright said. “I love Arkansas and I want to help make a difference here."
Wright, who is captain of the quiz bowl team, and two other Southside seniors will speak at commencement May 23.
Wright’s speech, about making a difference, was inspired by a quote he saw while visiting the William J. Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock.
"'There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America,' so I tried to infuse that quote in my speech and I talked about how our generation, we can be what is right with America and we can fix a lot of the problems," Wright said.
Both teens said the real journey is just beginning.