Faculty choose Joe-Wong to present valedictory speech at Commencement

By Nicki Resnikoff

Claresta Joe-Wong ’10 will present the valedictory speech at this year’s commencement ceremony on June 11.

“The Harvard-Westlake valedictorian is selected from among the top students in the class,” Head of School Jeanne Huybrechts said.

There is no exact number of candidates, but the final selection is generally made from a pool of two to five students, Huybrechts said.

The valedictorian is then decided by a faculty vote.

“The academic record—including GPA and coursework completed—of each student is considered along with his/her ability to create and deliver a valedictory speech,” Huybrechts said.

While the selection of valedictorian is officially announced at the Cum Laude Assembly which took place on Monday, May 17, Huybrechts informed Joe-Wong of the honor earlier this month.

Joe-Wong said that Assistant to the Head of School Emily Kennedy asked her to go to Huybrechts’ office about graduation announcements.

“She is extremely unassuming and was clearly shocked when I told her,” Huybrechts said of Joe-Wong.

“It felt incredible,” Joe-Wong said of being informed that she was selected to be valedictorian. “It was such an honor to be elected by my teachers.”

Joe-Wong will be attending Princeton University next year.

As valedictorian, she will be one of only two representatives of the Class of 2010 to give speeches at the commencement ceremony.

The other speech will be given by salutatorian Chase Morgan ’10, who was elected by his classmates.

As of now, Joe-Wong has written a draft of her speech.

“Naturally, I am excited,” she said.

In addition to writing and delivering a speech, the valedictorian receives a congratulatory certificate and plaque.

Also, Joe-Wong’s name will be permanently engraved on a trophy.

“Claresta has certainly distinguished herself academically and, according to all her teachers, she is a poised, thoughtful, and articulate young woman,” Huybrechts said. “I believe she’ll have something quite interesting to say at Commencement.”

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