After four years of working hard to be the top student in high school, being named valedictorian is the final major accomplishment for many young people. Typically, the valedictorian is well-liked by the teachers and staff, and many students agree that they owe part of their success to their guidance counselors and administration. Nataly Buhr certainly thanked her teachers in her speech, but then she proceeded to verbally torch the rest of the school’s staff.
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Buhr, a senior at San Ysidro High School in California, gave her speech in front of hundreds of excited parents eager to see their child walk across the stage. She started by thanking certain teachers and staff members calling them “the most intelligent, inspiring and supportive individuals I have had the pleasure of learning from.”
She then proceeded to deviate from the stereotypical valedictorian speech, which initially left the crowd puzzled. That’s when Buhr began criticizing the guidance counselors.
“Thanks for teaching me to fend for myself: You were always unavailable to my parents and I, despite appointments. … You expressed to me your joy in knowing that one of your students was valedictorian, when you had absolutely no role in my achievements.”
The crowd quickly began to mumble as they were undoubtedly trying to figure out what was going on. But Buhr wasn’t finished. She had more to say.
Transitioning to the front office staff she stated: “Thank you for teaching me how to be resourceful. Your negligence to inform me of several scholarships until the day before they were due potentially caused me to miss out on thousands of dollars. When applying for a work permit, you repeatedly turned me away, despite confirming with my employer and my parents that all of my paperwork was filled out correctly. I’ve had to escalate issues with staff to an assistant principal various times to reach any sort of solution.”
The crowd was left in disbelief with many of them putting their hands over their mouths. But Buhr was determined to finish her “scorch the earth” speech moving on to some of the less-than-desirable faculty she said she encountered during her high school experience.
“To the teacher who was regularly intoxicated during class this year,” she said, “thank you for using yourself as an example to teach students about the dangers of alcoholism. Being escorted by police out of school left a lasting impression.”
The crowd erupted in applause as the young student pointed out how bad the school had gotten. A spokesman for Sweetwater Union High School District, Manuel Rubio, explained that the speech Buhr gave was not the preapproved one for the ceremony, the Washington Post reported.
“We think that the student’s speech was inappropriate and out of line,” Rubio said. “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. Ultimately this takes away from what should have been a day of celebration for the school and their community.”
According to Business Insider, Buhr did not say these harsh words lightly. In fact, she says she is simply looking for a change. “I understand that those I criticized may be facing personal issues, but I don’t think that should affect their commitments or the school’s responsibility to fulfill their commitments. I didn’t expect for change to come from my speech, but I was hoping it would encourage more students to speak up.”