Peter Butera, the Pennsylvania high school valedictorian who had his microphone cut off when his graduation speech turned critical of school administrators, finally got a chance to finish his thoughts.
The 18-year-old, Villanova-bound student made an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Tuesday via Skype, where he first explained why his speech bothered faculty so much.
“I went off script and it wasn’t the speech I handed in because I knew they wouldn’t let me say what I wanted to say,” he told Kimmel — who described Butera’s words as the equivalent of giving the school “a 2 star Yelp review.”
Indeed, Butera wasn’t holding back with his words — given to Wyoming Area’s Class of 2017 during their commencement ceremony on Friday. Though he spoke mostly in generalities, his criticisms clearly struck a chord.
“At our school, the title of ‘Class President’ could more accurately be ‘Class Party Planner’ and student council’s man obligation is to paint signs every week,” Butera said, before his mic was silenced and school Principal Dr. Jon Pollard escorted him off the stage at Sobieski Stadium. “Despite some of the outstanding people in our school, the lack of a real student government — combined with the authoritative attitude that a few teachers, administrators and board members — have prevented students from truly developing as leaders. Hopefully, this will change.”
So what did Butera have planned next? Well, as Wyoming Area administrators might be surprised to hear, it wasn’t more condemnation. Instead, Butera’s final words were those of hope.
“Hopefully for the sake of future students, more people of power within our school who do not do so already will begin to prioritize education itself as well as the empowering of students,”Butera read aloud Tuesday night.
“Because at the end of the day it is not what we have done as Wyoming Area students or athletes that will define our lives, but what we will go on to do as Wyoming Area alumni. And I hope that every one of my classmates here today, as well as myself, will go on to do great things in this world and achieve true happiness and success. Thank you all for coming out to this great celebration today.”
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Praising Butera for his speech, Kimmel encouraged the teen to “keep being a pain in the ass” in college too, calling him “a good American.”
And while Wyoming Area administrators “weren’t too happy” with Butera, he said his parents “were proud” and supportive.
His graduation class was too — giving him a standing ovation when he left the stage, the Wilkes-Barre Citizens’ Voice reported.