The valedictorian and class president of Wyoming Area School District’s Class of 2017 was giving a graduation speech when he started to criticize his school’s administration for being overly authoritarian. And then the school proved his point.
As Peter Butera began to criticize the administration, his mic was cut off, and the school principal told the Villanova-bound student to leave the stage.
Afterward, Butera spoke to The Times-Tribune and said the school proved his point for him.
“I don’t think it could have gone any better,” the 18-year-old Butera told the newspaper. “I got my point across, and them cutting the microphone proved my point to be true.”
Graduation speeches are looked over by the school district in advance to avoid such an incident, but Butera decided to freelance when he veered into criticism of the school administration, according to school district superintendent Janet Serino.
“The speech was changed as it was being given,” she told the newspaper in an email.
Butera offered a rebuke of Serino’s statement: “I assume if I went off-script and praised the administration, it would not have gotten pulled.”
However, in an apparent attempt to appear less authoritarian, Serino scheduled a meeting with Butera to hear his complaints and ideas as to how things can be improved in the district.
Butera provided examples as to why he believes the administration is overly authoritarian in his speech, saying, “Despite some of the outstanding people in this school, a lack of real student government — and the authoritative nature that a few administrators and school members have — prevents students from developing as true leaders. Hopefully, this will change- ”
That’s when his mic went dead.
Butera kept talking, although he couldn’t be heard, as those in the crowd started to boo, and some chanted, “Let him speak!”
The valedictorian told the newspaper that the principal then said, “Alright Peter, you’re done.”
The Times-Tribune published the remainder of what Butera planned to say:
Hopefully for the sake of future students, more people of authority within this school will prioritize the empowering of students as well as preparing them to further their educations. 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 fellow classmates here today, as well as myself, will go on to do great things in this world and find true happiness and success. Thank you all for coming out to this great celebration today.