Truth To Power? Valedictorian Gives Awkward Speech That School Didn’t Like.

There are speeches and then there are memorable speeches.

(The fun starts at roughly 1:20 into the video.)

San Ysidro High senior Nataly Buhr’s speech began the way most valedictorian addresses begin: She thanked her parents for their love and support, her friends for the memories she will cherish, and a few select teachers for helping her achieve success.

Then Buhr broke from tradition when she thanked a school counselor who she said was regularly unavailable to students. She didn’t name the counselor.

“To my counselor, thanks for teaching me to fend for myself,” Buhr said. “You were always unavailable to my parents and I, despite appointments. Only in these past few weeks, with the awards ceremonies and graduation coming up, did you begin making your appearance.”

Buhr went on to thank the school’s main office staff for teaching her 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,” she said.

The quiet murmurs among the crowd and students escalated into loud gasps and outcries when Buhr thanked a teacher who she said was “regularly intoxicated during class.”

“Thank you for using yourself as an example to teach students about the dangers of alcoholism,” Buhr said. “Being escorted by police out of school was a lasting impression. I hope that future students and staff learn from these examples.”


Traditionally, speeches made by valedictorians are boring. You can see that in the body language of the students as Buhr begins her speech.

Then the fireworks began.

For their part, the school spokesperson claimed the speech was inappropriate:

According to Manuel Rubio, a spokesperson for Sweetwater Union High School District, Buhr’s speech did not follow the pre-approved version she submitted to the school prior to graduation.

Rubio said he could not comment on specific personnel allegations but offered his overall opinion of the address.

“We think that the student’s speech was inappropriate and out of line,” Rubio said in an email Tuesday. “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.”

Whether the speech was “inappropriate” is something that people will have to decide for themselves. Certainly to us, from the outside looking in, the parents and the students – for whom the graduation is for – didn’t seem to have any issues with the speech.

We wonder if the issue for the school district was that Buhr was telling the truth and they did not want that truth out there.

They did not want the idea that counselors weren’t helping students. They didn’t want it known that the office staff was incompetent.

They certainly didn’t want the parents to know that one of the teachers was handcuffed and walked out of the building by the police.

In their mind, it was better to blame the student than address the issues.

Clearly, the students latched onto the speech. They saw it for what it was.

It almost seems as if the school wanted to teach kids to speak “truth to power,” as long as that “power” wasn’t the school and school district.

One Response to “Truth To Power? Valedictorian Gives Awkward Speech That School Didn’t Like.”

  1. Thomas Gaume says:

    Funny how this same scenario is played out over and over again.

    Pre-approved speech = prior restraint, and is not free speech.