Education

Oh, my! San Diego high school grad’s scathing speech leaves a mark

MCT file illustration

The bleachers were full of parents, the football field a sea of caps and gowns in white and baby blue. Then, Nataly Buhr stepped to the microphone, greeted San Ysidro High School’s Class of 2019 and let it rip.

Call it three minutes of fury, a teen movie-worthy takedown of a graduation speech served up by the class valedictorian.

The San Ysidro High senior’s June 6 address clocked at just north of three minutes but once released, it went viral almost as fast, the speech this week becoming a YouTube sensation: “Scorched-earth,” “Scathing,” the headlines read.

The Buhr-ns came fast and furious. Her counselor? Unavailable. The school’s office staff? Negligent. One of her teachers? Drunk.

Buhr’s valedictory to a seemingly stunned crowd at this San Diego campus played as an acid catalog of life lessons learned.

Self-reliance: “To my counselor: Thanks for teaching me to fend for myself. You were always unavailable to my parents and I despite appointments. Only in these past few weeks with the award ceremonies and graduation coming up did you begin making your appearance. You expressed to me your joy that one of your students was valedictorian when you had absolutely no role in my achievements.”

Resourcefulness: “To staff in the main office, thank you for teaching me to be resourceful,” Buhr said. “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.”

The perils of alcohol: “To the teacher who was regularly intoxicated during class this year, thank you for using yourself as an example to teach students about the dangers of alcoholism,” Buhr intoned as the graduates gasped, then howled in surprise. “Being escorted by police out of school leaves a lasting impression.” Ouch.

Buhr also left room for praise: Her parents “are the most hard working people I know - wonderful people and role models.” Her teachers were “the most intelligent, inspiring and supportive individuals I have had the pleasure of learning from,” she said.

When Buhr was asked about her parting words for the Class of 2019, she was unflinching in an interview with San Diego’s CBS 8. “I understand that those I criticized may be facing personal issues but I don’t think that should be affecting their commitments or the school’s responsibility to fulfill their commitments,” Buhr said.

Officials at San Diego’s Sweetwater Union High School District did not immediately respond to a Bee request for comment, but in an interview with CBS 8, a district spokesman called the speech “unfortunate.”

“It’s unfortunate that the words of a student are taking away from the positive things that have gone on,” said spokesman Manuel Rubio. “It’s unfortunate that she decided to air grievances.”

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