This is something I hate to do. I never took speech class in high school for this reason. When I was asked to give a speech at our graduation from the citizens’ police academy, I didn’t know what to say. I was shocked that she asked me because we had lots of people there in the class, but I was also flattered. She said she asked because I was writing a mystery series of books and wanted my perspective of the academy once it was over. I have a hard time saying no too, so I told her I’d do it. I had one day notice and was a bundle of nerves.
I sat down at my computer that night to type up something I had roughed out earlier in the day. I was going to use bullet points and then speak letting those jog my memory, but in the end I ended up writing a two page double-spaced speech to read. I figured I’d probably get tongue-tied and it was better to have everything written up that I wanted to say. And I didn’t want to leave anything out.
The next day before class I went over it again and printed it out. My neighbor was my guinea pig and good enough to listen to it beforehand. I was grateful for that. I got a bit emotional while reading it to her. I thought I’d be a basket case at the graduation. After all, the mayor, chief of police and deputy chief would all be there, along with a few of the officers. However, I tried not to think about all this as I drove over. I do speak to strangers at Costco all day long, day in and day out, so I tried to envision my audience in that way. I have no problem at all talking about my demo all day long.
The mayor spoke first and then the police chief. I thought “oh no! I’m next.” But as it turned out another older man and volunteer at the department was called next and then I was last before our completion certificates were handed out, along with a class picture we took a few weeks ago. We were called up in alphabetical order and had to walk to the front, much like any graduation, except there was no cap and gown. Afterwards we had to go down the line and shake hands with the mayor, police chief and deputy chief and the officers there that got in that line. The officers were all gracious and thanked me for saying such nice things about them. I meant every word.
Our binder of info, the graduation certificate and class picture
After that we all had snacks that were nicely laid out on two big tables in the back of the room. There were sandwiches, chips and dip, veggie trays and fruit platters. The water was in big, clear glass dispensers, one with lemon slices and the other without. It was all very nice. We formed small groups and talked about the class as we ate with our fellow classmates. Of course we joked about not knowing what to do on Tuesday and Thursdays nights now that the class was over. We decided we might need a support group, or an advanced class.
A few of the class members have stopped by for some samples at Costco since that night.
I’m still looking for the right frame for my diploma and class picture and will hang it proudly on my office wall.