❝ Wyoming Area Secondary Center’s high school valedictorian and class president, Peter Butera, did not mince words during his valedictory speech at his graduation ceremony June 16…Butera — who is due to attend Villanova University come fall — took the opportunity to thank his fellow students and the teachers and administrators who enriched his high school experience — and to stand up to those who had not.
Class president all 4 years of high school — Dave Scherbenco/AP
“Good evening, everyone. The past four years here at Wyoming Area have been very interesting to say the least. To give you an idea of what it was like, I’m going to take this time to tell you all a bit about what my Wyoming Area experience was like and the people who were a part of it.
I would like to start off by thanking my mom, my dad, and my baba, who have raised me since the day I was born and have helped me become the person I am today. Every one of us graduating have those special people in our lives that care for us every day, and love us unconditionally. And to all of you here today, we cannot thank you enough for everything you’ve done for us.
I would now like to recognize a few teachers who are extremely committed to their jobs as educators, and have worked to make me and many others, better students every day: Mr. Hizynski, Mr. Pizano, and Mr. Williams. In addition to these three, there are a number of other very good teachers at our school as well. It is dedicated teachers like these that truly help to develop students and prepare them to further their educations.
Not only does Wyoming Area have some great teachers, but a couple great administrators as well. Mr. Quaglia had been our principal for 3.5 years, and was as great a leader as they come, always extremely caring and reasonable. Over the summer, our school hired a new principal, Mr. Pacchioni, and despite the hesitancy that some students may have had about getting a new principal our senior year, he quickly put that to rest by coming in and always looking out for the students here since day 1.
Throughout my time at Wyoming Area, I have pursued every leadership opportunity available to me. In addition to being a member of Student Council since I was a freshman, my classmates have also elected me Class President the past 4 years, which has been my greatest honor, and I would like to thank you all for that one final time, it really means a lot. However, 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. Despite some of the outstanding people in this school, a lack of real student government and the authoritative attitude that a few teachers, administrators, and board members have, prevents students from truly developing as leaders.
Hopefully in the future, this will change. Hopefully for the sake of future students, more people of power within this school, who do not do so already, will begin to prioritize education itself as well as the empowering of students. 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 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.”
I’m hard-pressed to understand why the drones in charge of education in Wyoming, Pennsylvania, felt they had to shut this lad’s speech down. When I graduated high school – a couple centuries ago in the bowels of McCarthyism – I think there were plenty of schools with sufficient gumption and commitment to traditional American ideals to support a speech like this one.
More than ever, I fear for the future of American education if this pretty moderate challenge to obedience is considered dangerous enough to pull the plug on the sound system.