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WA Ghostwriter

The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

2024 Class Speaker Alex Kwon emphasizes connection in final send off

Srivas Arun
Kwon stands in front of the WA campus where she will perform a final speech to send her classmates off to a new chapter.

The mention of the year 2020 never fails to stir up memories of desks distanced far apart, makeshift remote classes, and near constant feelings of isolation. However, within that shroud of hardship lies equally strong memories of perseverance.

Senior Alex Kwon hopes to emphasize her class’ perseverance to remain a close knit community when she takes the stage on Friday, June 7 as the Class of 2024 class speaker.

After a particularly unique four years at Westford Academy, Kwon could not dismiss one major accomplishment of the class despite the many awards and records the current seniors had garnered while at WA.

“We had faced so many challenges together, [such as] entering our freshman year in the midst of COVID, and remote learning,” Kwon said. “My main takeaway was that we had built this incredibly close network and community and [we should] keep that strong connection after high school.”

As with many class speakers, Kwon’s speech initially began as her final assignment for theater arts teacher Michael Tower’s public speaking class. Although the popular class provided Kwon with the opportunity to write the speech, her motivation to submit the speech originated from her inherent interest in public speaking.

“I’ve always enjoyed public speaking, and the anxiety that surrounds it,” Kwon said. “It’s a skill that I’ve always wanted to work on and develop.”

Improving her public speaking skills has been a goal of Kwon’s largely due to the business major she will pursue at Bentley University. Kwon was also inspired to throw her hat in the ring by her good friend Madelyn Haley, the Class of 2023 class speaker.

Unlike Haley, Kwon built up the speech bit by bit over the course of multiple days with each part focusing on highlighting the importance of the community they had built even through radical changes to their lives and high school experience.

Throughout the process of writing, Kwon wanted to keep the mood of the send off optimistic in contrast to the uncertainty at the beginning of the Class of 2024’s high school journey.

“The main focus was on the connection and [a reminder that] even when we go to college, we shouldn’t forget the foundation we built here in high school,” Kwon said. “We don’t want to forget the connections we have here and […] that graduating is a happy thing […] so I focus on the positive emotions of graduation, rather than the sad ones.”

Returning to school after remote learning was no simple task. Adjusting to the once normal schedule and resuming classes after periods of isolation would have made any kind of connection difficult, not to mention entering a nerve-wracking high school setting. 

Nevertheless, the Class of 2024 not only managed to form strong bonds, but also succeeded in building a community which fostered growth and excellence.

Instead of focusing on the melancholy and uncertainty of leaving high school and entering into more independent lives, Kwon wanted to remind her classmates of the journey they had completed and the unprecedented challenges they had overcome.

“I think the students in this particular class are so much more connected with the community, things that are going on in the country, things around the world,” Principal Dan Twomey said. “I feel like it’s just maybe it’s the age of the COVID where they were just kind of forced to learn all those things […] and they experienced much more than other groups have.”

After completing her speech for the public speaking assignment, Kwon entered it into the running for the class speech without many expectations.

“I didn’t think I was going to get the role because I threw my hat in the ring and just wanted to see what happened,” Kwon said. “But I was so excited, not really nervous, but just more excited.”

That same excitement followed Kwon as she learned that she was one of four of the original 13 applicants chosen to advance to the finals. During the last round of decisions, the final four students performed their speeches in front of a committee made up of Towers, Twomey, Class of 2024 Dean Betsy Murphy, senior class representative, Mitali Deshmukh, and class advisors.

“It was obvious how much they all cared about doing a good job and how important the role of class speaker is. They all did a wonderful job,” PE teacher and class advisor Patrick Claycomb said. “We couldn’t go wrong with who we selected to represent the class. They were all worthy candidates.”

The committee considered many aspects of the speeches when making their decisions including a message that the entire class and audience would understand, the importance of the theme to the class, and the strength of the presentation itself. 

According to Kwon, her confidence and eloquence in her performance was largely due to the practice she had with delivering public speeches in Tower’s public speaking class.

Although the committee felt that all the speeches would have successfully sent off the class, they decided on Kwon’s speech due to its emphasis on the Class of 2024’s individual experience and its relatability to the whole class.

“Everybody did a great job, but Alex combines the theme, the presentation, and recaps the four years in a way that truly represents the class,” Murphy said.

From leading a varsity sports team to being a member of NHS, Kwon’s variety of experiences through high school allowed her to capture the many emotions unique to the Class of 2024 and channel them into her speech.

“I think she is somebody who can walk into any different group of students […] and she’s very respectful as a student in the classroom and as a student athlete,” Murphy said. “I believe that when she’s up there on that stage, she has already gained the respect of her classmates and will gain more from those who don’t know her as well.”

According to Murphy, she introduced the role of class speaker to WA administration in 2005 in order to provide a student who had a passion for public speaking with the opportunity to present a speech to the class.

“It’s important for students to hear from someone that they’ve sat with [for multiple years], we talk about student voices all the time, and I think hearing from [a fellow student] is important,” Murphy said. “The class speaker is a moment where students can get lost in the ceremony and get to think about where they’ve been and where they’re going […] and so I think Alex does a nice job with that bridge from WA alum to a huge new chapter in the student’s lives.” 

As the date of graduation approaches, Kwon understands the weight of the task, but has not allowed nerves to overtake her excitement for the role.

“I’m relieved that I got the role and knowing that all I have to do now is practice. I am a little nervous, obviously, but it’s more just excitement,” Kwon said.

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About the Contributor
Srivas Arun
Srivas Arun, News Editor
Hello! My name is Srivas Arun and I am currently a sophomore  and a co-news editor for the Ghostwriter. You can find me on the cross country and track teams year round. I am interested in spreading information to the student body about WA and its community.

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