UPDATE: Finally, Peter Butera, the Pennsylvania high school valedictorian who was unexpectedly interrupted while giving his graduation speech, got the chance to finish.
The producers at "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" tracked him down after hearing about the incident.
The soon-to-be Villanova University freshman made an appearance on Tuesday's show via Skype and spoke about why he was pulled off stage by school administrators. Then, vindication. Butera delivered the rest of his speech.
Now, Butera can enjoy his summer as a local hero, celebrity status included. That's a pretty great graduation gift.
An 18-year-old student from Pennsylvania knew his school's administration wasn't interested in giving students the space they need to grow as human beings, but what he might not have expected was how they would react once he made his dislike for their approach public.
As valedictorian and class president Peter Butera gave his graduation speech to the Wyoming Area class of 2017, he criticized the school's “authoritative attitude.” That's when the unexpected happened.
“Despite some of the outstanding people in our school,” Butera said, “the lack of a real student government — combined with the authoritative attitude that a few teachers, administrators, and board members have — prevents students from truly developing as leaders. Hopefully, this will change.” As he uttered these words, the power to his microphone was suddenly cut off.
Valedictorian/Student Body Prez mentions the 'authoritative attitude' of teachers & admins... then they cut his mic. https://t.co/Bx7h6fHjEz— Dave Jorgenson (@davejorgenson) June 20, 2017
Even as the equipment went off, he continued, speaking about the problems he and others had faced regularly “for the sake of future students.” As many in the audience booed the school for its action, some were heard saying they were proud of Butera. Others shouted: “Let him speak!”
According to Wyoming Area Superintendent Janet Serino, Butera's address had been vetted before the event, but unfortunately for the school, the student decided to go off script at graduation, prompting the administration to act this way. Still, parents and colleagues didn't seem worried as they gave Butera a standing ovation after the Villanova University-bound student was ordered to get off stage.
Despite the initially tense nature of the incident, Butera said he's happy that things turned out as they did, especially now that the video of his interruption and speech has gone viral.
“I don't think it could have gone any better," he stated. "I got my point across and them cutting the microphone proved my point to be true.”
If he had been able to continue with his speech, Butera told reporters, he would have concluded with the following:
“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.”
Unfortunately, the school didn't give Butera the opportunity to conclude his speech, further proving that the student was right for standing up for his and his fellow students' well-being instead. If anything, the school has managed to further damage its reputation by not letting the class president speak.