Did you have a high-school teacher whose less-than-sterling professional conduct haunts you to this day? Maybe a member of the English department once held you after class to inform you that, due to the size of your breasts — a thing beyond your control — certain people on the faculty had begun calling you a “bimbo,” or maybe it was just administrators who were rude and totally unsupportive. If you find yourself still seething over past slights and flagrantly inappropriate behavior, buckle up, baby: This one’s for you.
Nataly Buhr, a senior at San Ysidro High School in San Diego, California, delivered an absolutely scathing valedictorian speech to the class of 2019 last week. It started off business-as-usual: Buhr thanked her parents for their unflagging support, mentorship, “endless love and guidance.” She thanked specific teachers for their investment in their “students’ education and well-being.” She thanked her friends for “always being by [her] side.” And then she went all-in.
“To my counselor,” Buhr said, maintaining a monotone that betrayed no hint of a bloodbath to come. “Thank you for teaching me to fend for myself. 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. And might I note, you expressed to me your joy in knowing that one of your students was valedictorian, when you had absolutely no role in my achievements.”
“To the staff in the main office,” she blazed on, as murmurs bristled through the crowd. “Thank you for teaching me how 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.”
“To the teacher who was regularly intoxicated during class this year,” she continued, as hands rose to mouths and the simmering schadenfreude boiled over into rowdy applause. “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 that future students and staff learn from these examples.”
And the crowd went wild.
According to school-district spokesperson Manuel Rubio, Buhr departed from her preapproved script. Rubio described the speech as “inappropriate and out-of-line” to the San Diego Union-Tribune: “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.”
Buhr stands by it, though. Pointing out that she did thank the people who deserved praise, she told a local CBS affiliate: “I understand 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. I didn’t expect for change to come from my speech, but I was hoping it would encourage more students to speak up.”
Anyway, warmest congratulations on this very spicy switch-up to the staid graduation address, Nataly, and best of luck on all your future endeavors!