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High School Senior Gets Mic Cut During Graduation Speech

Teen Vogue logo Teen Vogue 6/8/2018 Brittney McNamara
a group of people standing in front of a crowd posing for the camera © Courtesy of Lulabel Seitz

When Lulabel Seitz stood at the podium in front of her graduating class on June 2, she was set to give a speech that summed up her time at Petaluma High School. But four minutes into her speech, the mic cut out. According to the Press Democrat, the mic was cut after Lulabel strayed from the text of the speech she had submitted to her high school prior to the ceremony. After her peers chanted to "let her speak," Lulabel later delivered her full speech in a YouTube video, touching on a teachers's strike in May, 2017, alluding to budget cuts, and referencing alleged sexual assault on campus. Below is the full text of Lulabel's speech.

In a statement to Teen Vogue, Deborah Richardson, an assistant principal for Petaluma High School, said, "Administrators and staff in Petaluma City Schools care deeply about the safety and well being of our students. Due to student privacy issues, we cannot and should not respond with specific information. We can say that when issues of sexual assault come to our attention, local law enforcement has initial jurisdiction and determines the course of action. If an alleged event happens off campus or on, we work to support our students with appropriate discipline, extensive counseling, and whatever measures we can take to protect our students while they are in our learning environment."

I couldn’t be more pleased to be here today. I remember our first day here as freshmen. The hallways — which inevitably smelled bad — were somehow special. P.E. uniforms were a nuisance, but somehow significant. Shopping for school supplies was boring, but somehow a source of pride. We can’t deny that it was with an air of importance that we all walked in here, formerly scared junior high students, and now “high schoolers.” So grown up.

We all walked in here with big dreams — whether those were going to a certain college or going to a certain party. The possibilities here seemed endless. Standing before you as I am right now was my dream, which was by all means an unlikely dream. As the daughter of two parents who left high school early and didn’t get to go to college, and the granddaughter of two immigrants from the Philippines and one single mom, I never thought I’d get to stand here as your valedictorian. The reason I share my story with you, however, is not because I think it’s unique — quite the opposite. We have all had unlikely dreams and had to overcome obstacles to achieve them.

Adversity isn’t the rare, monumental idea we made it out to be in our freshman year English essays. Rather, it’s something incredibly common. During high school, we’ve all at some point been hurt, excluded, or — worst of all — ignored. But it is not the fact that we’ve had these experiences that is the reason why we are here today. Rather, it is the fact that we’ve overcome them. And even though we may not have all achieved our unlikely dreams to the extent we had hoped, we’re graduating. For many of us, that itself was the unlikely dream. This is something we all deserve to be proud of.

And the best part of graduation is that now we can go onto the rest of our lives unrestricted, and achieve even more. For our class, there’s no such thing as “peaked in high school.” If there’s one thing we can promise ourselves for the future, it’s that the best is yet to come.

It is always difficult to say goodbye, especially knowing that we won’t all remember each other. But I can guarantee that each one of us has made an impact on another one of us, and that as a whole, our class will not be forgotten.

Furthermore, it is truly the journey we took to get here that makes the Class of 2018 unlike its predecessors. The fires that put our daily lives on hold and took some of our homes — we didn’t let that drag us down. When our teachers had to go on strike because they didn’t receive the respect they deserve — we didn’t let that drag us down. It helps that we had the support of compassionate and dedicated teachers, friends, parents, counselors, custodians, and librarians throughout the years. Learning on a campus in which some people defend perpetrators of sexual assault and silence their victims — we didn’t let that drag us down. Even after four years of working our hardest and becoming the best class Petaluma High has ever seen, just to be told be those same some people that our love of learning, art, drama, music — anything —- wasn’t valuable enough to be funded, well we didn’t let that drag us down either. Time and time again, the Class of 2018 has demonstrated that although we may be a new generation, we are not too young to speak up, to dream, and to create tangible, positive change. As such, we will never be forgotten. How could we be?

Watch the speech below:

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