Jem Lugo Forced to Rewrite Valedictorian Speech (Article moved from

Now here’s the thing:  We live in a world of under-achievers and delinquents who could care less about grade point averages and the future.  Our teachers and educators urge their students to reach for the sky!  Be all you can be! (Wait, that’s the military).  Be who you are!  But the second someone does exactly that, the hammer of criticism and bureaucracy comes down and demands you reform your progressive way of thinking to a more politically correct, that’s-just-what-we-do way, completely squelching the very thing that had been encouraged.

That’s what happened with Jem Lugo, graduating Valedictorian of Springstead High School (Spring Hill, Florida).  This kid graduated with a 4.5 GPA and is headed to Harvard in the fall.  Susan Duval, Springstead’s principal, called Jem’s speech “appalling” and demanded she write a new one or they’d find someone else (with a lower GPA, mind you) to take her place.  (Speech: Rejected and Approved)

Wow.  I mean, really.  Sham-Wow.  To coin a fellow blogger’s term: “Education or Indoctrination”?  I’m not telling any secrets here when I say that there are some educators out there who get up every single day and strive…I mean REALLY put forth an effort to be stuffy and anal-retentive, religiously adhering to a strict code of conduct that has a low-to-no tolerance of monkey business (a.k.a Originality).

Ms. Duval, I think all of this reeks of irony.  You so vehemently robbed Jen Lugo of giving a true and deserved speech.  A speech that she earned.  You FORCED…..yes, FORCED her to do a re-write.  Because God forbid these graduating students, parents and faculty actually hear something fresh and relevant that wasn’t copied from another great mind.  I’m sure under interrogation, Ms. Duval (or spokesperson for Springstead High School) would rear back in horror and declare, “We most certainly did NOT force Ms. Lugo to do anything!  That’s absurd!”  No.  You just threatened to take away an honor that Jem worked four years to obtain and give it to someone who didn’t work quite as hard, but would blindly follow orders.

As for Susan Duval (pictured here):

Turns out, she wouldn’t know how to write an original speech if her job depended on it:

“Springstead High School principal, Susan D. Duval, received a $1,500 fine and letter of reprimand Friday to settle a state inquiry into plagiarism in graduation speeches in 2004 and 2005.
Duval, 59, has admitted using long, nearly verbatim passages from a 1997 Chicago Tribune column by Mary Schmich, as well as a collection of sayings.

In her settlement with the Education Practices Commission, Duval elected not to contest charges that she violated state laws and regulations governing educators, without admitting or denying their validity.
If Duval had been convicted of those charges, she could have been stripped of her state certification as a teacher and principal.”

Jem, I have a feeling you’re stepping out into a kooky world on exactly the right foot.  Keep thinking outside the box.  Keep working hard to relate to your peers and counterparts.  Turn a blind eye to the Haters and never feel you have to make apologies for being genuine and authentic.  Afterall….well-behaved women rarely make history.


One Response

  1. This is so sad.

    Her original speech was everything that we want to teach the youth of today: 1) To be sensible and take care of business 2) To think for themselves and stand up for what they believe in 3) Listen to your gut 4) Be polite 5) Foster important relationships, etc etc.

    Instead, she was forced to give a watered down version of “the right thing to say.” How are we helping our youth become dynamic and creative people when the administration just stifles that?

    Her original speech was thoughtful, touching and, most importantly, honest. Good qualities, if you ask me.

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