Valedictorian's Speech Cut Off by Administrators

18-year-old was criticizing 'authoritarian attitude' of school faculty
By Josh Rosenblatt,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 21, 2017 11:16 AM CDT

(Newser) – When Peter Butera got up to begin his valedictorian speech at his high school graduation ceremony in Exeter, Pa., on Friday, he probably never dreamed he'd be finishing it on Jimmy Kimmel Live! four days later. But on Tuesday night the 18-year-old class president appeared via Skype on the late-night talk show to recite the tail end of a speech that had been cut off by Wyoming Area Secondary Center administrators the week before. CBS Philly reports that administrators shut off Butera's microphone after he veered off his pre-approved script to condemn what he called the "authoritative attitude" of some of the school's faculty and staff, an attitude, he said, that "prevents students from developing as true leaders. Hopefully, this will change." At which point his mic went silent.

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The Wilkes-Barre Citizens' Voice quotes a statement from principal Jon Pollard in which he explains he felt obligated to stop Butera's speech in order to "ensure the remainder of [it] was not demeaning or derogatory to his classmates, the underclassmen, faculty, staff or administration." The Washington Post talks to a friend of Butera's who says Butera was frustrated by having numerous ideas turned down by Pollard during his four years as class president. (Other off-script lines from Butera: "At our school, the title of class president can more accurately be class party planner. Student council’s main obligation is to paint signs every week.") The Villanova-bound Butera doesn’t think his speech could have gone any better: "I got my point across and them cutting the microphone proved my point to be true." (Valedictorians have had issues before.)

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