Valedictorian rips school staff and calls out teacher for "alcoholism" in graduation speech

By Christopher Brito

/ CBS News

A San Diego high school valedictorian went scorched-earth on school staff during her graduation speech earlier this week, airing her grievances against some faculty members in a highly public fashion. Her fiery remarks later went viral.

Nataly Buhr, who attended San Ysidro High School, told CBS News affiliate KFMB-TV that she wanted to bring attention to what she felt was lack of support for students. Buhr began her speech thanking specific teachers who were "invested" in students' education and well-being. But then she called out other school employees for failing to live up to that standard.

"To my counselor, thank you for letting me fend for myself — you were always unavailable," she said. "You expressed to me your joy in having one of your students be valedictorian when you had absolutely no role in my achievements."

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She accused a teacher showing up to school drunk. "To the teacher that was regularly intoxicated during class this year, thank you for using yourself to teach these students about the dangers of alcoholism."

Buhr sarcastically praised the main office staff for teaching her to be resourceful over apparent incompetence.

"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," she said. "When applying for a work permit, you repeatedly turned me away, despite confirming with my employer and my parents that all of my paperwork was filled out correctly."

Manuel Rubio, a spokesperson for Sweetwater Union High School District, told KfMB that he could not comment on specific allegations, but offered his take on the speech.

"It's unfortunate that the words of a student like this are taking away from the positive," Rubio said. "There are a lot of teachers working very hard for our students, it's unfortunate that she decided to air grievances."

During Buhr's speech, the audience responded with audible gasps and roaring applause. Her mother also backed Nataly's bold move.

"I was proud that she spoke up and got it out It is something that takes a lot courage to do," Monica Buhr told KFMB.

Valedictorians around the country have used their speeches as a vehicle to put a spotlight on issues. Earlier this month, a the speech of Dallas high school valedictorian Rooha Hagha ended abruptly as she began to list the names of black teens who were shot by police. Haghar said the school purposefully muted her mic.

First published on June 14, 2019 / 10:58 AM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Valedictorian rips school staff in graduation speech

"To my counselor, thank you for letting me fend for myself – you were always unavailable," Nataly Buhr said

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