Speaker selections bring surprise, controversy

Every year at Lincoln, a select couple of seniors are chosen by the Lincoln class counsel to speak at graduation. This year, the senior speaker titles go to Montse Mendez and Leo Wiswall.

“Leo and Montse were chosen for their contributions to Lincoln’s community, specifically through their involvement in student government and student unions. They were identified as people who could represent unique experiences at Lincoln,” says Zoe Parkell, the senior class Treasurer.

Each year, Lincoln students like Mendez and Wiswall are chosen through a meeting between the Lincoln senior class cabinet, where the speakers are chosen through a majority vote.

“I was really taken by surprise when one of the girls from leadership came up to me and said, ‘Hey we’re thinking about having you as a speaker for graduation,’” says Mendez. “I still can’t believe it’s actually happening, I’m really honored and surprised — in a good way.”

The speakers receive information about what is traditional said at graduation and how long they have to speak from the school administration.

However, unlike years prior, this year’s speaker selection has caused some controversy.

In the Lincoln Class of 2016 page, Lincoln senior Elliot Bellato created a poll asking for people’s opinion on the speaker selection process. 101 people voted for an option claiming that the process was undemocratic and favored a whole class vote.

“Elliot’s explanation of the situation skews the truth and is filled with charged language clearly intended to sway opinion; he claims that “Leadership class” has made the decision, while it was actually a majority of the democratically elected senior class cabinet that made the decision,” says Parkell.

In addition to the controversy that the selection process created, one of the senior speakers took the poll as a personal offense.

“(The poll) was kind of upsetting. On the class page the person that posted it said it wasn’t a personal attack to the people that were chosen, but it kind of felt that way,” says Mendez.

Furthermore, an anonymous letter was sent through the Lincoln yearbook email account to the administration making a case against the selection process.

No plans are being made by the Lincoln senior class counsel to change the way senior speakers are chosen.

Controversy aside, receiving the role of senior graduation speaker is a huge honor, and Mendez is looking forward to speaking.

“During my sophomore year I went to see my best friend’s graduation and I just remember thinking, ‘It’d be so cool to be one of those people speaking in front of the whole class,’ but I never thought it’d be me,” says Mendez.

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