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Valedictorian goes off script at graduation to blast his school’s administration
Talk about going out with a bang.
What better way to “stick it to the man” as a high schooler than to go viral after embarrassing your high school’s administration at graduation?
On Friday, one Pennsylvania high school valedictorian and class president changed his graduation speech mid-delivery to criticize the administration’s “authoritative” lead. In response, the administration promptly cut his mic, pretty much proving his point.
During his speech to Exeter, Pennsylvania’s Wyoming Area Secondary Center graduates, Peter Butera spoke about his experiences in student council and as high school president. However, the 18-year-old said the student council had little influence over what happened in the school. He dubbed its members party planners and weekly poster painters, voicing concerns that the weak leadership experience left students unprepared for college.
“Despite some of the outstanding people in this school, a lack of real student government, and the authoritative nature that a few administrators and school members have, prevents students from developing as true leaders,” Butera said to graduates, administration, and attendees, veering from his planned speech.
“Hopefully, this will change,” he continued, before his mic was promptly cut. Some of the crowd booed in response, while others cheered on Butera to continue talking.
“He said, ‘Alright Peter, you’re done,'” Butera told the Times-Tribune about the principal’s abrupt interruption. “I don’t think it could have gone any better. I got my point across and them cutting the microphone proved my point to be true.”
Wyoming Area Superintendent Janet Serino told the paper that graduation speeches are approved ahead of time, and that Butera had changed the speech mid-delivery. However, Butera questioned if the administration would have pulled the plug on him if he had praised them instead.
Despite having his time cut short, Serino said she immediately scheduled a meeting with the valedictorian to listen to his concerns and suggestions for improvement.
According to the Times-Tribune, Butera, who’s set to attend Villanova University in the fall, had planned to conclude his speech with hope for the future of incoming students, and for the success of the class of 2017:
“Hopefully for the sake of future students, more people of authority within this school will prioritize the empowering of students as well as preparing them to further their educations. Because, at the end of the day, it is not what we have done as Wyoming Area students or athletes that will define our lives, but what we will go on to do as Wyoming Area alumni. And I hope that every one of my fellow classmates here today, as well as myself, will go on to do great things in this world and find true happiness and success. Thank you all for coming out to this great celebration today.”
Watch Butera’s full moment of glory below:
Samantha Grasso is a former IRL staff writer for the Daily Dot with a reporting emphasis on immigration. Her work has appeared on Los Angeles Magazine, Death And Taxes, Revelist, Texts From Last Night, Austin Monthly, and she has previously contributed to Texas Monthly.