Your high school graduation ceremony is something you want to remember forever. For me, I’ll never forget the fact that I had the flu and passed out in the hallway before the ceremony even started. Yes, I received my diploma from a paramedic, along with some smelling salts and paranoia that everyone had been staring up my dress while I was on the ground.
But for Marvin Wright, president of his high school senior class at Southwest Edgecombe High in Pinetops, North Carolina, his ceremony was memorable for a much different reason.
When awarded class president last fall, he was told that hed have to give a speech at graduation in June.
He spent two weeks working on his graduation speech, staying up untilfive in the morning of the event to finish. But the excitement over finishing high school and addressing his classmatesgot a little blemished last Friday.
The principal told him he would be giving a different address instead, a five-sentence paragraph prepared by the school administrators, but gave him no explanation.
After Marvin chose to deliver his own heartfelt speech instead, the school withheld his diploma.
From what I learned in class, I feel like it violated the First Amendment, Marvintold The Wilson Times. I couldnt say what I wanted to say and when I tried to say what I wanted to say, there was consequences.
When Marvin approached the podium, he pulled up his speech on his phone and delivered it his way.
In his speech, Marvinsaid: “I am no expert in this journey we call life, but we all have the ability to make a difference and to be that change the world needs. The past 13 years have equipped us for a time as this to stand bold in who we are. So I say to my classmates, cherish these last few minutes we spend here and the memories we have created and get ready for the journey ahead.”
Administrators can be seen getting visibly upset that he chose to read his own words.
After Marvinread his speech and the ceremony concluded, all of the students lined up to receive their official diplomas. Marvin’s was mysteriously missing. It was then hisadvisor told him the principal had removed the diploma because Marvin had read the wrong speech.
I was upset and embarrassed, he said. All of the seniors was walking around with their bright orange folders and I, being the last one in my class, was walking out with nothing in my hand.
The teen didnt get his diploma until Sunday afternoon, when the principaldropped it off at his house. Not quite like getting it from a paramedic, but still not cool.
Superintendent John Farrelly said that he didnt have issues with the content of Wrights speech, but rather that he had used his cellphone and changed course at the last minute.
There is an expectation that is communicated to all graduation speakers that the prepared and practiced speech is the speech to be delivered during the ceremony. That was made extremely clear to the speakers, said Farrelly.
He did acknowledge that it was wrong for the school to without the diploma from the student.
And it should be noted that hisEnglish teacher told him she approved of the speech, and that Marvin even left a copy of the remarks on his principals desk for review on commencement day.
With that said, administrators still insist he should have read the address they prepared.
But he didn’t…
He spoke from the heart, and he still eventually got that diploma.
But he cant get that day back, his mother said. That was a special moment for me, it was a special moment for him.
That said, nowit’s onward an upward for the graduate.He enlisted in the U.S. Navy on Monday, and after that, he hopes to study pediatric surgery.
So what do you think? Was the school justified or was it an overreaction?
Via: Washington Post