Back in 2019, Nataly Buhr was delivering her valedictorian speech during her high school graduation ceremony. Now, let’s be honest, folks. Most of us probably don’t remember a word from the valedictorian’s speech at our high school graduation. These speeches are typically filled with inspirational quotes from people most students never heard of and are more of a boring formality in most students’ minds.
However, Buhr chooses to go a slightly different route, which shocked everyone in attendance and left the administrators at San Ysidro High School in San Diego, California, lost for words. You see, despite being one of the school’s top students, Nataly’s scholastic experience at the school wasn’t always positive, especially when it came to dealing with the staff.
During the first part of her speech, Nataly spent her time praising the teachers and faculty she felt went the extra mile to succeed. Her speech then took a sudden turn when she began calling out those staff members who made her life more difficult.
Now, it’s not unusual for students to have personality conflicts with teachers. However, Nataly’s grievances were not based on petty reasons. First, she thanked her school counselor for never having the time to see her or her parents despite making multiple appointments over the years. She then put her counselor on blast for trying to share in her achievements when graduation was approaching.
“Only in these past few weeks, with the award ceremonies and graduation coming up, did you begin making your appearance,” she said. “And might I note, you expressed to me your joy in knowing that one of your students was valedictorian when you had absolutely no role in my achievements.”
And if you thought that was brutal, Nataly wasn’t done. She then turned her focus to the staff in the main office who taught her the virtue of being resourceful after their “negligence to inform me of several scholarships until the day before they were due, potentially caused me to miss out of thousands of dollars.”
By this time, she had everyone’s total attention as she ended with a call out of a teacher “who was regularly intoxicated during class this year.”
This prompted a huge gasp from the audience.
“Thank you for using yourself as an example to teach students about the dangers of alcoholism,” she said. “Being escorted by police out of school left a lasting impression. I hope that future students and staff learn from these examples.”
You can watch her blistering speech in the video below.
As you can imagine, her school wasn’t delighted with the valedictorian’s speech. Manuel Rubio, a Sweetwater Union High School District spokesperson, described the speech as “inappropriate and out of line” when interviewed by the San Diego Union-Tribune.
“While we definitely welcome the concerns of students and their families regarding any situation at one of our schools, doing so in such a manner without any prior knowledge of this situation by the school, is not the right way of handling this,” Rubio said in an email to the newspaper. “Ultimately this takes away from what should have been a day of celebration for the school and their community.”
There are a lot of folks who will have different opinions about what Nataly did. Some might say that she chose to make a scene and embarrass herself and her school by airing her grievances in such a public way.
However, I personally feel that we need more students like Nataly who are willing to speak truth to power. You see, most schools are designed not to reward achievement or encourage students to think; rather, they are designed to teach children how to be compliant and follow the rules. The Valedictorian in the video below explains this brilliantly while dropping a truth bomb about how the scholastic system really works and why he was choosing in the first place.
If we had more smart and brilliant folks speaking truth to power in our society, we would be much better off. We need people like these kids in our government, heading corporations, and other organizations. The fact that they are brilliant and talented isn’t what makes them special; they have the moral courage to speak the truth even when it isn’t convenient. Hopefully, more students such as these young folks will set examples for others to follow, although I wouldn’t count on our current education system producing them, at least not on purpose.
Credit: USA Today