Sydney Helgeson, a senior from Bismarck High School in North Dakota, stood in front of her fellow graduates on Sunday, May 26 to deliver the graduation speech, but the speech had a little twist to it.
Helgeson sang the words to her graduation speech to the tune of Lady Gaga‘s song “Shallow” from the movie A Star Is Born in front of 270 graduating students and their friends and family. She came up with the new lyrics for the song, replacing Gaga’s words with ones about the senior class’ high school experience.
The performance was shared to YouTube and has since gained thousands of views. In the clip, Helgeson begins her speech by saying, “On this special day in our lives, graduation speeches are a tradition. But when words fail music speaks. So, I’d like to dedicate my song ‘Tomorrow’ to the tune of Lady Gaga’s ‘Shallow’ to the class of 2019.”
The lyrics included in the song are aimed to reflect back on her and her classmates’ time at the school. “Tell me, something class,” she begins. “Are you happy that today’s the last/ Or do you need more / Are you ready to go out that door?”
Helgeson also used the song to reminisce about their time spent as “demons,” referring to the school mascot.
While speaking to Good Morning America, she said she thought about the many things that made her proud to be a part of the school when writing the lyrics of the song.
“When writing the lyrics, I thought about all the things that made me proud to be a demon,” Helgeson said. “Things like winning the state football championship and marble staircases in our halls.” She continued, “I tried to reminisce on all the moments that our class has shared together. The good, the bad, the funny – all the memories.”
She said the idea for the song came to her after watching James Corden and Alicia Keys’ parody of “Shallow” when announcing that Keys would be hosting the 2019 Grammy Awards.
“I thought that’s a cool idea. Maybe I could do something like that for a graduation speech,” said Helgeson, who will attend the University of Alabama in the fall with a major in business and a minor in music. She said her classmates were “really supportive” of her creative speech.
“A lot of people came up to me after the ceremony and I was even more amazed by all the people who shared it on social media,” she said. “I was so grateful for the positive reaction and that people wanted to share it with their friends.”
Many people have commented on the video, which has since been viewed over 12,000 times, saying how creative the teen was.
“Wow what a gift you gave to your graduating class! What an outstanding way to give a speech and to share your beautiful gift of music and singing! Your class will remember that day for ever! And good luck with your future!” one person wrote.
Another added, “The class of 2019 will not forget this speech! Outstanding!” while another said, “This is absolutely amazing!!”
According to local Bismarck station KFYR, Helgeson is overcome by the positive feedback about her graduation speech. “It’s overwhelming,” she said. “All the positive feedback I’ve gotten back. All kinds of people I didn’t know. A lot of people that went to BHS are really proud of the Bismarck High tradition.”