Jimmy Kimmel provided a platform for a recently silenced high school valedictorian to speak his truth on Tuesday night’s episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live! – and gave the young graduate a few words of advice.
“Here’s a young man who could use a press secretary,” Kimmel introduced the footage. “This is from a high school graduation in Exter, Pennsylvania, where the senior class president gave a speech that did not go over well with the faculty.”
In the short clip, high school student Peter Butera stands before his family, friends and faculty onstage and seems to criticize some of the school’s less-than-stellar policies.
“At our school, the title of class president could more accurately be class party planner and student council’s main obligation is to paint signs every week,” he begins. “Despite some of the outstanding individuals in our school, the lack of a real student government, combined with the authoritative attitude that a few teachers and administrators and board members have, prevents students from truly developing as leaders.”
Butera looks poised to continue, but his mic is cut off and a faculty member sitting behind him urges the bewildered student to get off the stage. Both cheers and jeers can be heard in the background.
Kimmel, looking upset at Butera’s abrupt ouster, then revealed that he and the Jimmy Kimmel Live! crew had in fact tracked Butera down, and would allow him to finish his speech on the show via Skype. When the late night host asked Butera why he thought his speech was cut short, the graduate said evenly, “Well, 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.” (Butera said his parents were supportive of his decision to go rogue with his speech.)
He then went on to recite the rest of his prepared remarks:
“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 on the show. “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.”
Butera told Kimmel that he plans to attend New Jersey’s Villanova University in the fall, where, according to the late night host, he should “keep being a pain in the ass.”