A San Diego high school valedictorian began her graduation speech as most do ― by thanking her parents and role models. Then she unleashed a firestorm of criticism against her guidance counselor, main office staff and a teacher she accused of being drunk on the job.
Nataly Buhr, a San Ysidro High School senior, elicited a roar of shouts and applause from her peers in the crowd during the June 6 commencement ceremony when she called out “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,” she quipped. “Being escorted by police out of school left a lasting impression. I hope that future students and staff learn from these examples.”
Buhr also thanked her counselor for “teaching me to fend for myself,” deriding the employee as practically useless.
“You were always unavailable to my parents and I, despite appointments,” she said. “You expressed to me your joy in knowing that one of your students was valedictorian when you had absolutely no role in my achievements.”
Continuing, Buhr skewered the school’s main office for allegedly almost costing her hefty sums of financial aid.
“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.”
The blistering speech, which appeared to be well-received by students who reacted with cheers, went viral online, being shared across Twitter and receiving hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube.
But the school wasn’t as thrilled.
In a statement to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Sweetwater Union High School District spokesman Manuel Rubio scolded it as “inappropriate and out of line.”
“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,” he added. “Ultimately this takes away from what should have been a day of celebration for the school and their community.”
Addressing the controversy in a statement to local CBS affiliate KFMB-TV, Buhr didn’t back down.
“I understand that those I criticized may be facing personal issues, but I don’t think that should be affecting their commitments or the school’s responsibility to fulfill their commitments,” she said.
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