“I didn’t expect for change to come from my speech, but I was hoping it would encourage more students to speak up.”
A high school senior at the top of her class gave an epic send-off to faculty and staff who apparently needed checking—including one teacher who she said was “regularly intoxicated during class.”
Faculty and staff who give their all to be a positive force in their students’ lives deserve all the recognition for their hard work. But for every stellar educator there is another that gives only 50%. Which is why this story is satisfying for any student who’s felt unsupported in their education.
On June 6th, San Ysidro High School valedictorian Nataly Buhr began her graduation speech by thanking the faculty members who went above and beyond by name. “Thank you for being so invested in your students’ education and well-being,” Buhr said. “You are the most intelligent, inspiring and supportive individuals I’ve had the pleasure of learning from while at SYHS.”
After thanking her parents and friends, the speech took a turn nobody expected.
“To my counselor, thanks for teaching me to fend for myself—you were always unavailable to my parents and I despite appointments… You expressed to me your joy in knowing that one of your students was valedictorian when you had absolutely no role in my achievements,” said Buhr, continuing her speech in the same candid tone.
And to the staff in the main office, Buhr said, “Thank you for teaching me how to be resourceful”—sharing how their “negligence” potentially caused her to miss out on scholarships, and how they denied her application for a work permit “despite confirming with my employer and parents that all of my paperwork was filled correctly.”
And finally, to close out her address, Buhr called out a faculty member who everyone knew for their drinking problem. “To the teacher who was regularly intoxicated during class this year, thank you for using yourself as an example to teach these students about the dangers of alcoholism,” said Buhr. “Being escorted by police out of school left a lasting impression.”
Buhr maintained that it was the responsibility of the faculty and staff she called out to fulfill their duties to the students, despite their own problems. “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,” she said in a statement to News 8. “I didn’t expect for change to come from my speech, but I was hoping it would encourage more students to speak up.”
While a spokesman for the Sweetwater Union High School District said that it was “unfortunate that she decided to air grievances,” the valedictorian’s mother Monica Buhr supported her decision to speak up.
“I was proud that she spoke up and got it out,” she told KFMB. “It is something that takes a lot of courage to do.”