Our #2 in class wasn't allowed to give his speech

I just wanted to know what you all think about this. One of my closest friends was not allowed to give this speech for our commencement on Tuesday, June 9th. The majority of students we have talked to feel this speech is well-written, and pretty good, and do not feel it should have been rejected. The link I gave also contains an article, and the speech itself is on the right-hand side of the screen.

I personally feel that given the reasons our principal gave as to why he can’t say it, this was a violation of his freedom of speech (his view greatly contrasted with that of the principal.)

It’s all pro-American untill it supports a view oposit of yours. I remember a cartoon from a while ago that had a pro-war & anti-war person fighting, and how the anit-war person said, “What about freedom of speech?” The anti-war person said, “What type of anti-American slander is that?” :rolleyes:

It’s a high school, they can do whatever they want. The principal did the right thing because this kid did not follow the rules, which the was stated as:

Charles Hall, principal of Gavit Middle/High School, said he did not censor Blackwood. The valedictorian needed to prepare a speech about the future and the salutatorian needed to reflect back on the past years of school, Hall said. The speeches should invoke happiness and celebrate the positive day, he said.

Hall said Blackwood’s speech was well-written, but it needed to represent the entire class and not just his viewpoint.

He was supposed to speak about the past years of school, not give his own political opinions. If the rules stated that he could talk about politics or a war, and the school said no, then I could see how the school would be out of line. It’s that simple. It’s not an issue about ‘freedom of speech’ this is an issue about how he didnt prepare a speech on what he was supposed to.

This is a non-issue issue. He didnt follow the outline and that’s his own fault. Time to move on and get over it.

This is one of those finer points. I mean, the rules are the rules, and while he touched on the required stuff, he did kinda go off onto a massive tangent. Right message, but not necessarily the right place.

This is what bothers me about this story:

Charles Hall, principal of Gavit Middle/High School, said he did not censor Blackwood. The valedictorian needed to prepare a speech about the future and the salutatorian needed to reflect back on the past years of school, Hall said. The speeches should invoke happiness and celebrate the positive day, he said.

He (Blackwood) said he was told what the theme should be after he turned in his speech.

Now, if the kid knew the theme before going into it, and decided to write something off of that path, then I would say that the student is pulling a stunt that honestly reeks of self-promotion.
But if the school assumed that he was going to write something positive and is only raising a stink because the paper isn’t what they expected, well, that’s poor communication on the school’s part.

Honestly, the only thing I remember from my HS graduation speeches was the Valedictorian (who was this tiny bookish white girl) stopping in the middle of her speech to say: “And I’d like to give a shout-out to all my homies from my AP Engl-ish class, fo sho’.” Thats it. I don’t even remember what the Salutatorian said, basically because all she talked about was her group of friends.

This is why I love that Babson only has a “student speaker”, whose essay goes through a selection process. For high schools, though, I suggest what the comic strip Mallard Filmore once proposed: to have the “Mediocratorian”, the kid who sits in the absolute center of the rankings, to give the speech…thus giving a view of what the class is really like. :wink:

US Supreme Court Cases dealing with student speech, symbolic protest and written expression:
Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Community School District (1969)
Papish v. Bd. of Curators of the Univ. of Missouri (1973)
Bethel School District No. 403 v. Fraser (1986)
Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier (1988)

Read through these and you may have a better understanding of the difference between an anti-war letter written to the editor of the school paper, a pro-war comment made in the lunch room, wearing a peace button on a shirt to school, putting an armband on to protest the war in class, wearing a Bush or Kerry for President button on a coat and making a speech espousing a particular philosophy at a public gathering during graduation. While in each case the issue of the First Amendment is at stake the court has looked at each situation in a slightly different light when it concerns students rights to self-expression in public schools. It depends on the tone and tenor of the message, the implied meaning either stated or by innuendo, the circumstances of the message and the standards of the community school and its policies as they pertain to student expression.

David Kelly, you didn’t hear Bill Clinton’s convocation address at Cornell University a week ago. He was politically charged. And so what? As long as a speaker is not making baseless remarks or insulting anyone, his opinion is as valid as anyone else’s, regardless of their political views. I agree with the speaker’s opinions but I also do agree with you to a certain extent - the Principal holds the final say upon the issue so there’s not much one can do about it. The press helps his case, of course, but that can’t deter the Principal completely. As for whether the speech is positive, I’d say yes it is! Pro-peace and anti-violence definitely is happier to me than watching someone get their head cut off (it was a nasty video).

Here’s the situation at my school. Next year, when my class graduates, we won’t have a valedictorian or salutatorian. Our extra liberal school (in my opinion) doesn’t do specific rankings (we do deciles, top 10%, 20%, etc) of people probably because of some notion that it’d be offensive to the community (ie parents) to know that their kid isn’t as smart as they thought or to the students who might actually be humbled (such as me). Instead, our class president and vice president speaks. But what use is that when our officers run uncontested each year knowing that no one else cares about such a position (it doesn’t do much in our school)? I don’t have a problem with their performance in their respective positions but I’d prefer to follow the tradition of letting the valedictorian and salutatorian speak so that there is a reward to being smart and working hard (I’d like to see my best friend speak) - you get to address your entire graduating class and parents and leave a lasting impression. Obviously, it’s something important enough so that the aforementioned student was noted in his community news regarding his Principal’s decision and mentioned in these forums.

Yes, I heard the former President’s address, and he had every right to say what he did. We’re talking about a big difference here. A high school student was supposed to speak about his past year in his high school career, and a former President was hired and paid to give a speech on whatever he wanted to.

I don’t even see how these two situations can be compared to each other…

This seems awfully trite to me. What reason in particular is there for the valedictorian to speak exclusively about the future? And why should the salutatorian speak about only the past? The notion is ridiculous, really. Let them speak about what’s important to them–let them express themselves, rather than utter the usual clichés about how great it’s been, or how great the rest of their lives will be. (If that’s really what they want to say, then by all means say it–but mean it, if you say it!)

At each of the several Commencement addresses that I’ve observed (and at my old high school, only the valedictorian spoke–the salutatorian was not formally recognized), the topics addressed were education-related. This is a reasonable expectation, given the venue (just as you don’t go to a political rally to hear about the series finale of “Friends”). If his prepared speech were merely a political statement, then perhaps it would not be the appropriate place for it. If, however, he sought to tie education to his other message, maybe he was not out of line. He “wanted people to stop and think”–and isn’t that the principal goal of education? To make people able to make rational and informed decisions for themselves? Not having read the entirety of the actual speech (just the excerpt in the article), I don’t know his motives, but isn’t it possible that he could address issues directly related to his school, while simultaneously addressing issues directly related to his country? The last paragraph seems to indicate that this may have been the case: “We have the power to change the world and the course of human history – the question is how will we use that power. Will we learn nothing from the past?” (Possibly referring to the empowerment bestowed upon him through his education.)

In any case, since the school administration traditionally grants the top two class members the opportunity to speak at the graduation ceremony, it is supremely uncouth to revoke that right, because the contents of his speech were not sufficiently patriotic, or sufficiently related to the school’s past, whichever the case may be. (Please, no invoking of the mantra “it is a privilege, rather than a right”–the distinction is totally irrelevant to this discussion: they did grant him permission.)

I do believe that you’re mistaken. Rules don’t exist simply to be enforced, they exist for the benefit of the people to which they pertain. Why shouldn’t you speak about something that’s actually relevant? (And here, I’m assuming that his speech was relevant to both education and politics; if not, then he should have made it so.)

The bottom line: there isn’t any good reason why a speech that addresses issues both school- and nation-related issues should be censored. If it’s got nothing to do with school, take it elsewhere. If it’s got nothing to do with more significant issues than “high school was so great”, he should try harder. If he can cohesively tie these issues together, what’s the problem?

The principal of our school said nothing at all about the subject matter that should be in these speeches. No one did, in fact. By now it’s become custom that the #1 and #2 give speeches. Ian was not informed that he was only supposed to be speaking about his experiences in high school only, and if (as was announced today in our government class) the salutatorian ALWAYS is supposed to give a speech on past high school esperiences, I have video that proves that some of the past #2s have strayed from this and have still been avle to give their speech, oftentimes over their select group of friends that completely isolates the remainder of the class.

On his blog, Ian had this to say:

The Times ran the story this morning, and to clear this up, the Times called my house and asked me about the situation - I did not contact them - but I would like to thank the person that did contact the paper, Brittany, because it brought out the truth. Now for some clarification. On Wednesday I made it pretty clear that I would not be changing the speech for various reasons, reasons that I’m sure you all know, but I told Mr. Hall I would talk it over with my parents and tell him Thursday. So Thursday I walked into his office on my way to lunch and told him that I would not be rewriting my speech, and that if it was “unacceptable” as is, then he should find someone else to speak (Like Sarai (our #3), who I am sure would have done an excellent job.) His exact words were “All right then, we’ll just cut it from the program and go with the one speech [Colie’s](our valedictorian). It’s done now.” Keep in mind, this was on my way to lunch.

I was perfectly prepared to let the situation end there. I felt wronged, but I didn’t want to cause a huge controversy or anything of the sort (great job there, eh?). But it didn’t end. Why? Because certain members of the staff decided to gossip and word soon got around that my speech was “extremely negative” and that I wanted to “ruin everyone’s graduation day.” People who hadn’t even read what I wrote were saying these things. I mean, when five or six people come up to me and ask to see my speech because they’ve been hearing all these terrible things about it, it’s discouraging. Basically the powers that be were portraying what I wrote in a horrendous light, and everytime someone else came up and told me “Hey, you know I just left the office and they were talking about you and what you wrote. They said you wanted to ruin everyone’s day, what did you write?” I got angrier and angrier.

I got a phone call when I got home from a Times reporter who asked if she could talk to me. I agreed and explained the whole situation to her. She said that she had talked to Mr. Hall and he had said that as far as he knew I was still going to rewrite my speech and there was no problem. I said, “Well what time did you talk to him?”, because I didn’t give him my final word until lunch time that I was refusing to rewrite my speech. She said that she just got off the phone with him…literally. She talked to him just before she called me. So Mr. Hall lied to the reporter. Also, when I got home I told my mom everything that had gone on and she went to see Mr. Hall. When she came home, she told me what Mr. Hall had to say. He lied to my mother as well, more than once I can assure you, but this post is all ready long enough without me getting into it…so he lied to to the reporter but more importantly he lied to my mother. It was shameful, and I was angry to say the least. He also tried cracking a joke about the fact that my mother is a Catholic - and you can imagine how I felt about that…

So, I wake up this morning and the Times (much to my suprise) put the story on the front page. Thousands of people now had the chance to read what I wrote and make up their own mind, which is all I wanted in the first place. Fox News Chicago also called my house, twice.

An administrator with the School City called my house and wanted to talk to me, so I talked with this person for a while and she asked me “What if, on Monday morning, they tell you you can give your speech?” I told her I wasn’t sure what I would do, that I would have to think it over.

Well, after all this has happened, I would respectfully decline to speak at graduation if they offered me the chance, because personally I feel that speaking after all this would overshadow the graduation as a whole. I don’t want my speech to be the focus of the graduation ceremony, and after everything the school did, that is exactly what would happen. The graduation ceremony isn’t about me, it’s about our class, and if they let me read my speech now I think that the controversy the school manufactured would overshadow the entire ceremony.

The reason I wrote that speech was to get everyone thinking, and I feel that my goal was achieved.

Again, without all of you, none of this would have been brought to light and I sincerely thank and applaud every one of you.

The administration at Gavit high school has been doing things like this all year: The cancelling of Underclassmen Honors Day, the cancelling of dances and activities, inappropriate remarks, racist remarks…it goes on for days. I know Mazur (our student council president) plans on doing something about all of these things and I encourage everyone to support him.

Just Remember: This isn’t their school, it’s your school. You have the power, not them.

/Ian’s quote

If that post were on CD, he’d be getting positive reputation out the yin-yang.

Either side of the fence you happen to be, it’s good to know that there are kids who don’t just walk in the trenches dug by the administrators. (I’m not saying that it should happen all of the time, but there are times when people just need to stand up.)

For the record, there was a copy of that story in my newspaper (we’re about 2 hrs from Hammond) today…

Although I’m not sure about this whole situation, isn’t there something called freedom of speech in this country? He has earned the right to speak… I’m pretty sure this was a violation of his first amendment rights -

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

As Voltaire once said -

“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

Even if I don’t agree with his speech, I think he should’ve had the right to give it. It may have been against war… but why is that a bad thing? Does anyone really LIKE war? The message I really saw in it was to go above hatred and fighting and move on to greater things… which is truly a great message. :]

This is just where america is going, we will have no civil rights anymore! It sounds like your school it trying to be way to polictically correct in supporting our troops killing innocent people and doesnt want to “offend” anyone. It seems within in the next few years all media will be shut down except for what “they” want you to hear. I would have totally supported this speech and i agree with it 100%. Peace Unity and Equality just seems like a thing of the past for america, and it feels very scary knowing that! :frowning:

That had to be the worst speech to censor. There is nothing wrong with it and has the no political inneundo to it. If it was something along the lines of,“Bush is stupid vote Kerry” or “Kerry is stupid vote Bush” then the school would have a reason to censor it.