High school valedictorian gives speech criticizing school, now can't get diploma.

This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.

I think THIS sums up the story nicely:

I agree that graduation isn’t the best time to air your school’s dirty laundry, but if the administration won’t listen to student grievances in any other forum, then what other choices does she have?

Either the school needs to enact a “keep your speech focused on the positives” guideline, or they don’t have a leg to stand on.

Hey, I think it’s an important life lesson.

“This is how the world works, sugar. Grades don’t matter. Your performance doesn’t matter. How good you are, how skilled you are, how brilliant you are, all the good you’ve done for yourself and others… just doesn’t matter. It’s all a matter of power, out in the grownup world. As the school, we have the power. You, the student, the teenager, do not. And now, you can apologize and recant, or you don’t graduate. Period.”

Being right is no defense, if you piss off the wrong people. Of course, now that it’s made the national news, this may change – but, then, again, it’s a matter of power; the entire world is now looking at this smallminded school administrator. If he gets enough phone calls, he may do like the Foul Ball Snatching Jerk, and relent, just to get the press to call off their dogs.

Or he could keep being a dick. Your call’s as good as mine.

But… as one who discovered at an early age that “freedom of speech” and “freedom of the press” does not apply to young people, I think it’s an important life lesson. Powerful people think nothing of shoving your face in the dirt if you piss them off, right or wrong. No one *really cares about your rights * except the people who love you and Amnesty International. S’truth!

You ought to know that before you go spouting off, is all.

I honestly hope she doesn’t recant if it was true (and it sounds like at least some of her criticism would seem to be founded in at least common perception). Wang-ka is right that there will be a price to pay, but all they can withold from her is that sheepskin document above her desk (or more likely stuffed in a box or closet somewhere). They can’t stop her from graduating in a capacity that counts for colleges. Officially she will be recorded in the system as having sufficiently completed all the requirements for the diploma. Everything else is just pomp and circumstance.

So just how hard would it be for the valedictorian of the High School of Legal Studies to get a lawyer to work pro bono? All the lawyer would have to do is point out to a judge that nowhere in the requirements for graduation does respectful attitude appear.

IMHO if this girl and her mother wish to push this the administrator has a great white shark by the tail, and will get eaten alive very soon. :wally

I agree with Master Wang Ka that there is an important life lesson here. But, I think it is the school who learn it.

“We have power! Right or wrong, true or false doesn’t matter. Apologize or you won’t get your diploma.”

“No, I have the power. The media has picked up the situation. I could get a lawyer pro bono. But, it doesn’t matter. You have no power. I have all these articles proving that you examined my academic records and performance and judged me fit to be valedictorian, and that you agree I have completed all academic requirements to graduate. I don’t need a sheepskin. I have all these clippings.”

Same type of thing happened at our school the valedictorian was planning a pretty nasty speech only the teachers found out about it and changed the rules so she wasn’t valedictorian anymore and gave that honor to someone else.

I forget what they did exactly something like changing the weights of grades of certain classes to count more or less towards being valedictorian.

Heh. Good for her. I hope she doesn’t back down either.

I don’t even know WHERE my high school diploma is …

I have to disagree with Wang-Ka, here.

The kids already been accepted to Smith. She’s going there whether she’s gets that sheepskin or not.

The important lesson being rammed home is that, if you’re sufficiently talented and choose your timing right High School doesn’t matter one damn bit. And the administration can be flouted with impunity.

Really, think about it. What sanction is the high school administration going to hit her with? She doesn’t get a diploma? Who the hell cares? It’s not like a high school diploma or it’s physical lack with harm or help her in any way, shape or form.

The kid had the courage to speak up when she had a forum to do so. That’s a lesson for all of us to learn.

On a full scholarship! As long as the college is OK with the situation, I’d tell the administration exactly where they could put their precious diploma.

The physical diploma isn’t what qualified you to go to college - it’s your transcript. Hell, I don’t even know where my high school diploma is, either. And to be quite honest I have only the sketchiest idea where my university diploma is.

So this girl will leave her lame-ass school behind, sputtering and blathering about “disrespect” from a kid who busted her ass to graduate despite the incompetence of her so-called superiors, while she goes on to bigger things than their little minds can imagine. She wins.


Once you’ve been accepted to college, your school diploma has virtually no value whatsoever, as long as you stick with college and make it through to graduation.

In fact, this is true all the way up the educational ladder. I have a Masters and am well on the way to a Ph.D., and no-one ever asks me about my undergraduate degree any more. Nor will my undergrad performance have any affect at all on whether i can get a job in the field i wish to enter. Every educational step makes the one before it functionally irrelevant, unless you are moving sideways into a completely different area.

She still needs her transcripts showing how she applied her talents while in high school. So high school still matters. Of course schools still have the ability to access her transcripts and she’s already been accepted into college. So she still has the ability to flout the administration with little fear of impunity.


That’s an important point. If you’re not a college graduate a lot of places require proof of graduation from high schoolin the form of a diploma or GED.

If she sticks to her guns she’d better hope that she doesn’t fail out of college, otherwise she’s going to have to do some fence mending down the road.

A good lawyer, and she will have a full-ride through grad school, too. Methinks her speech is going to need an adenda: 5 principals in 5 years, becuase sure as shootin’ the district is going to cave and can the principal real fast.

Speaking as a public-school teacher…good for her!

I disagree with Master Wang-Ka… For not reading the article and realizing that the student in question was female. :smiley:

I hope the girl doesn’t cave.

Huh? I read the article. Where did I say anything that implied the student was anything but female?

The school isn’t going to learn anything, I suspect. When you’re going through administrators that fast, nobody’s around long enough (or has enough peace and quiet) to “learn” much of anything, administrator-wise. This is a school district where some manner of war is going on between the administration and the school board, or something of that sort – either that, or it’s such an insane neighborhood that administrators bail as soon as they realize they’re being expected to work miracles.

Do I know this for sure? No. But it’s the sort of thing I’ve seen before.

I personally think the kid had a right to spout off – she’s got a right to a public education, and when the system is letting her down, “sucking it up” is certainly an option, but not a good one. Given her valedictory status, I’m assuming she worked her butt off, and wasn’t happy with the Chinese fire drill in progress that seems to have been what they use for a high school out there.

I do kind of understand the admin’s point of view, though. Let a kid get wiggy at graduation, and next year, ten more will try the same stunt.

…but I’m not sure that “airing legitimate grievances in public” amounts to the same thing as “pulling a stunt at graduation.”

Then again, one could criticize the girl for airing ancient laundry during what should have been a joyous occasion for all, and spoiling the graduation ceremony for others.

Then again, it sounds like her speech was way more interesting than any of the bland, mindless things I have to sit through every year.

If I were the administrator in question, I’d wanna sanction her in some way, sure. But this seems way too likely to come back and bite you in the butt…

Well, there will probably be a new principal next year and he/she won’t care about the speech and hand over the diploma.

Update! She’s getting her diploma. (Surprise!)

I also like the additional information about how her speech was vetted (and rewritten) by an assistant principal.

How much do you want to bet that we’re looking at a school that’s going to have five principals in five years?

If I had given that speech at my school, I would have been prepared for the backlash – with my finger over the speed-dial to the local newspapers. My mother would have been immensely proud of me, in fact; for all her faults, one thing she instilled in me from an early age was to never be ashamed of telling the truth no matter how much it hurt, even if it got me into trouble. I always knew that I would have my parents at my back in a situation like this.

The school couldn’t do anything to her but withhold the sheepskin. Incidentally, never once in my life have I needed to provide proof of my graduation from either high school or college, whether working for a restaurant or a computer company. I’ve never even needed to request a transcript.