Most valedictorians honored with speaking at their graduation ceremony hope to send a message that will stay with their peers and teachers long after they move on to the next chapter of their lives
One San Diego high school valedictorian’s speech will certainly not be forgotten. In a now viral video, San Ysidro High School valedictorian, Nataly, took her graduation stage to “thank” certain teachers and staff for their shortcomings and negligence.
Nataly, whose last name has been omitted to protect her identity, started off her graduation speech like any other, expressing gratitude for the people that contributed to her success, including her friends, family and certain teachers at the school.
“Thank you for being so invested in your students’ education and well-being,” she said, standing before her class dressed in a white-graduation cap and gown on the school’s football field.
According to Manny Rubio, the communications director for the Sweet Union High School District, Nataly had submitted a version of the speech that was approved by the San Ysidro school administration. But halfway through the valedictorian’s speech, Nataly went off-script when her “thank you’s” made an unexpectedly sharp, sarcastic change in tone.
“To my counselor, thank you for letting me fend for myself,” Nataly said in front of friends, family, teachers and staff. “You were always unavailable to my parents and I, despite appointments.”
She added, “You expressed to me your joy in having one of your students be valedictorian when you had absolutely no role in my achievements.”
Nataly went on to blast staff in the main office, for “teaching me how to be resourceful.” She says they failed to inform her of scholarships in a timely manner and gave her troubles with her work permits, causing her to potentially miss out on thousands of dollars.
In maybe the most startling criticism, Nataly mentions a San Ysidro teacher who she claims “regularly” showed up drunk to class. She goes on to thank the teacher for being an example to warn students about “the dangers of alcoholism.”
“Being escorted out of school by police left a lasting impression,” she said sarcastically as her fellow graduates shouted in disbelief.
Before her voice was drowned out by the cheers of support from her fellow San Ysidro graduates, Nataly left the graduation podium with one final quip: “I hope that future students and staff learn from these examples.”
Yahoo Lifestyle was unable to reach Nataly or her mother, Monica.
While many people have been supportive of Nataly’s audacious speech, the Sweet Water Union High School District is less than pleased with Nataly for airing her issues with the school so publicly at her graduation ceremony.
“Regarding the specific allegations made, I can’t make any comment on specific personnel matters,” communications director Rubio says. “We understand that she had some concerns, but it would have been nice if she had expressed those prior to her speech.”
Rubio says the district was “surprised” by the harsh criticism of San Ysidro’s teachers and staff and that her speech “takes away from the accomplishments of the students, teachers and staff there.”
“There are a lot of students going to great universities and doing great things after high school. It’s unfortunate that she made [the graduation ceremony] about herself,” Rubio says adding that the district is sending several students off to Ivy League Schools. Nearly 6,500 students graduated from the Sweet Water High School District this year.
Nataly’s mother, Monica told CBS 8, “I was proud that she spoke up and got it out. It is something that takes a lot courage to do.”
In a statement to CBS 8, Nataly points out that the video that has gone viral on social media doesn’t show the first half of her speech in which she “recognized and thanked those who I believe went above and beyond for the students.”
However, Nataly doesn’t regret speaking out about the school and hopes that her speech will inspire students and teachers to do better. “I know 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 those commitments,” Nataly said. “I didn't expect for change to come from my speech, but I was hoping it would encourage more students to speak up."
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