Pa. valedictorian, future Villanova student finishes cut off grad speech on Jimmy Kimmel Live

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Pennsylvania high school valedictorian who had his microphone silenced when his commencement speech went off script and criticized the district's administrators had the chance to finish his address to a worldwide audience thanks to Jimmy Kimmel.

Wyoming Area High School grad Peter Butera, who was also his class president, was a guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Tuesday night.

Kimmel said he wanted to know exactly what happened, so the show tracked Butera down.

"I went off script and it wasn't the speech I handed in because I knew they wouldn't let me say what I wanted to say," Butera told Kimmel over webcam.

Wyoming Area School Superintendent Janet Serino says commencement speeches are vetted and students can't deviate from remarks they submit. Still, she says student input is important, so she scheduled a meeting with Butera about how things might improve in the district.

Butera's main complaint last Friday was that student government has no real voice in how the school and district are run, saying that will hold back graduates when they enter the real world.

Butera said while he didn't get yelled at afterwards for the speech, he could tell administrators weren't too happy.

Butera did say his parents were proud and supported him.

So live on late night television, Kimmel gave Butera the opportunity to finish his commencement speech:

"Hopefully, for the sake of future students, more people of power within our 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 classmates here today, as well as myself, will go on to do great things in this world and achieve true happiness and success. Thank you all for coming out to this great celebration today."

The speech got a round of applause from the JKL crowd.

Butera went on to tell Kimmel he will be attending Villanova University in the fall.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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