A high school valedictorian delivered a stunning speech at her high school graduation. On June 6th, Nataly Buhr ripped front office personnel, her guidance counselor, and one "alcoholic" teacher in a speech that purportedly thanked school staff for the things they taught her. In fact, the speech started innocently enough. Nataly sincerely thanked those teachers who did their job well and made a positive impression.
But from there, it was all downhill.
Without missing a beat, she thanked her guidance counselor for "teaching me to fend for myself." She noted that her counselor was always unavailable, even missing scheduled appointments, and added that her counselor had no role in her achievements. She then called out the staff in the main office, claiming they'd failed to inform her of valuable scholarship opportunities, potentially causing her to miss out in thousands of dollars.
Nataly saved her biggest blast for an "alcoholic" teacher, who she thanked for teaching students about the dangers of alcohol abuse: "Being escorted by police out of school left a lasting impression."
While a few boos rang out at San Ysidro High School's graduation ceremony, most of the people in attendance either sat there in shocked silence or cheered her on. Students seemed especially enthusiastic about the speech. And for what it's worth, a school district spokesperson says the speech was NOT the one she'd submitted for approval.
That's the first problem. In order to make that shocking speech, Nataly Buhr lied about what she was planning to do. Had the speech been groundbreaking or had otherwise exposed some inherent evil at the school, then I could see it. But what Nataly exposed was a few staff members at a big school who were largely disengaged. It turns out some faculty members were phoning it in. I'm pretty sure that's an issue at every school, or really at any job. There will always be employees who are fully engaged and love what they do, while some will continue to work for the paycheck and little else. My experience in high school (and college) wasn't much different. There were some incredible educators, and others who were... not so much.
Manuel Rubio, the district's spokesperson, said she made the day all about herself: "It takes away from the experiences of everybody else that day who worked really hard.” Sure, plenty of students loved the speech and applauded wildly. But what about those who would have appreciated a little more about the class and what it had accomplished? And what about the hard-working faculty members who care so much for the success of their students? It was a shameful display, a punishment to the entire school for the failings of a few. There's a time and a place, but this wasn't it.
Ultimately, the biggest loser is Nataly Buhr. The valedictorian has been admitted to UC-San Diego, but once she graduates college (hopefully without making another speech), she'll be presumably be going out into the job market. Whenever an employer googles "Nataly Buhr," this speech will rise to the top of the search results. In every job interview, she'll have to explain how she threw an entire school under the bus. It might just cost her a good job down the line.
This was a mistake, but Nataly is young and will hopefully learn from it. I'd file it under "it seemed like a good idea at the time," then apologize and move on.