JayMac: What’s the most outrageous speech you’ve ever heard at a graduation?

Jun 14, 2019, 5:03 PM | Updated: Dec 30, 2022, 11:27 am
Students in graduation caps. The Utah graduation rate went up over the past few years....
Utah graduation rates continue to see in increase. Photo: Butch Dill, Associated Press

DISCLAIMER: the following is an opinion piece and does not necessarily reflect the views of KSL Newsradio or its ownership.

The valedictorian’s speech at San Ysidro High School’s graduation in San Diego started with a familiar theme: Thanking teachers for helping her succeed, her parents for being loving and hard-working, and, of course, her school friends — stay cool. But then she turned the flame-thrower on.

“To the staff in the main office, thank you for teaching me how to be resourceful,” she said. “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.”

And to her counselor, she delivered this poisonous sarcasm:

“Thanks for teaching me to fend for myself: You were always unavailable to my parents and I, despite appointments.”

Ouch. She saved this venom-laced dart for a teacher with the drinking problem:

“To the teacher who was regularly intoxicated during class this year, thank you for using yourself as an example to teach students about the dangers of alcoholism. Being escorted by police out of school left a lasting impression. I hope future students and staff learn from these examples.”

Cheering and applause from the audience followed.

For having felt like she just stuck it to some of her “favorite” teachers, the valedictorian surely felt a great deal of pride after delivering her speech, but she has unknowingly set herself up for future pain: i.e. job applications — remember, the internet is forever.

Public shaming changes nothing. Instead of addressing the whole student body, the valedictorian made it about herself. This is the height of selfishness. She robbed an entire class of their graduation ceremony in order to publicly air her complaints. That’s a wildly selfish hijacking.

There is a right and wrong way to address a teacher’s shortcomings. Public badmouthing isn’t it. Start with the principal, then go to the school superintendent, then the school board, then run for a school board office. That’s how a disgruntled valedictorian can effect real change.

Update on Woods Cross officer controversy

protests valedictorian

Jerri Hrubes stands next to her son DJ during a news conference Friday, June 7, 2019, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

After a Woods Cross, Utah, police chief declined to fire one of his officers who pulled his gun on a 10-year-old black boy, Black Lives Matter activists say they will protest in front of department headquarters, demanding the officer be fired.

The unidentified officer drew his gun on the boy while pursuing armed suspects who were described as black. The boy’s mother, Jerri Hrubes, who said the officer later returned to the scene to apologize to the boy, called the incident racially motivated.

The police department has called for an outside investigation of the event but believes the officer in question followed all protocols. And yet, people are still clamoring for his job.

This is an outrageous request. Think about what we ask the police to do:

Your job is to race into danger and capture the gunman and do it with perfection or you will lose your job.

I am not in denial of the fact that there have been recent multiple examples of police brutality against black Americans. And I view this as a real problem. But like many problems, the risk exists of swinging the pendulum too far to one side, and as a result, punishing those who don’t deserve it.

I understand the mom’s frustration with an officer pointing a gun at her child. But I was in a similar situation when I was 16. An officer rolled up on me, pulled his gun, handcuffed me, sat me down on a curb and asked me many questions because there was an armed robbery in the area. I matched the suspect’s description.

Never once in my life have I ever felt that that officer acted inappropriately.

I viewed the Woods Cross incident similarly. Unless you can show me some systemic abuse by this officer, I stand by his actions because of what we demand the police do daily. But miscalculate your action in a split second during a life-or-death situation, and an officer loses his livelihood. Impossible standard.

How is that reasonable? If the officer followed department protocol, isn’t terminated, and you object, then protest against the rules and standards the officer is held to, but don’t fire him. That only creates a standard that no officer can ever live up to.

Jay Mcfarland hosts the JayMac News Show, weekdays from 12:30 to 3 p.m. on KSL Newsradio, as well as the fictional podcast, Hosts of Eden. KSL Newsradio is part of Bonneville Media and based in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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JayMac: What’s the most outrageous speech you’ve ever heard at a graduation?