You've made it through eight grade! Next stop...high school! But before everything concludes, you've been asked to give the graduation speech for your class. Calm those nerves and consider a few suggestions that can make your speech appropriate, relevant and encouraging.

Looking Back

Reflecting on past experiences is a powerful tool to connect with your audience. Mention specific memories that serve as common denominators for you and your classmates. For instance, recall your first impressions of the big and scary eighth graders you feared as younger students. Use those experiences to prompt a recognition of the ground you've covered and how far you've come. This can help set the stage for more forward-thinking insights later in your speech.

Give Credit

Acknowledging the family, classmates and teachers that helped you graduate is always a respectful -- and smart -- move in a graduation speech. As Mark Zuckerberg reminded some graduating eighth graders in a 2011 speech, no one accomplishes their goals alone. Recognizing the support of those around you is crucial in achieving rites of passage with grace. And, besides, giving props to your family and teachers can pay dividends in the end. You might get an extra dessert at the congratulatory meal.

Leaving a Legacy

Discuss the legacy you and your classmates will leave behind. What impact have your classmates had on your school? This reminder serves as encouragement and also ties you to your alma mater for years to come. Mention specific changes your class made to the school, such as fundraisers for school improvements or mentoring opportunities that influenced sixth or seventh graders.

Acknowledge the Future

While many graduation speeches reflect heavily on the past, be sure to talk about the future. Acknowledge that many students may be parting ways after having spent several years together. Paint a brief picture of what might become of everyone as they head to high school, where they may stay together or scatter. This can help diffuse some of the tension that exists for those who may see it as a sad or bittersweet day. A strong stroke of optimism about the next steps can end a solid speech on a high note.