A valedictorian gave a brutally honest speech that left the crowd gasping: 'Thanks for teaching me to fend for myself'

CBS 8Nataly Buhr delivered a scathing speech.
  • Nataly Buhr, the valedictorian at San Ysidro High School, began her speech thanking her teachers.
  • But then her speech took a turn.
  • Buhr sarcastically thanked her guidance counselor for “teaching me to fend for myself” and one teacher for being “regularly intoxicated during class this year.”
  • The crowd looked visibly shocked and at times squirmed uncomfortably as she spoke.
  • The school said this was not her pre-approved speech.
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Most of the time graduation speeches morph into a blur of boring, indistinguishable remarks centered around a theme of being thankful.

And at first, that’s what it seemed like Nataly Buhr, the valedictorian at San Ysidro High School, would do. She thanked her friends, her family, and a select few teachers.

Then things took a turn.

“To my counselor, thanks for teaching me to fend for myself. You were always unavailable to my parents and I, despite appointments,” Buhr said. “Only in these past few weeks, with the awards ceremonies and graduation coming up, did you begin making your appearance. And might I note, you expressed to me the joy in knowing that one of your students was valedictorian when you had absolutely no role in my achievements.”

Then, she called out the main office staff.

“Thank you for teaching me how to be resourceful,” she 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. When applying for a work permit, you repeatedly turned me away, despite confirming with my employer and my parents that all of my paperwork was filled out correctly.”

Finally, she thanked a “teacher who was regularly intoxicated during class this year” for “using yourself as an example to teach students about the dangers of alcoholism. Being escorted by police out of school left a lasting impression.”


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As she spoke, her classmates struggled to hide their expressions of shock. At times they appeared visibly uncomfortable or cheered.

Speaking to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Manuel Rubio, a spokesman for Sweetwater Union High School District, said this was not the speech Buhr was approved to give at graduation.

“We think that the student’s speech was inappropriate and out of line,” Rubio said. “While we definitely welcome the concerns of students and their families regarding any situation at one of our schools, doing so in such a manner without any prior knowledge of this situation by the school, is not the right way of handling this. Ultimately this takes away from what should have been a day of celebration for the school and their community.”

The student’s mum, Monica Serratos, told CBS 8 she is “proud” of her daughter for using her voice and her platform.

Buhr said that she hopes her speech encourages others to speak up in the future.

“In the beginning, I recognised and thanked those who I believe went above and beyond for the students,” Buhr said in her CBS interview. “I understand that those I criticised may be facing personal issues, but I don’t think that should affect their commitments or the school’s responsibility to fulfil their commitments.”

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