High school valedictorian recites Lord’s prayer in place of speech
Roy Costner IV* was standing at the podium to present his pre-approved speech as class valedictorian. He proceeded to tear up the speech in front of his class, parents, teachers and school administration at Liberty High School in South Carolina.
Roy took the opportunity to instead say: Those that we look up to, they have helped carve and mold us into the young adults that we are today. I’m so glad that both of my parents led me to the Lord at a young age. And I think most of you will understand when I say ‘Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name . . . .’ ” Roy finished the prayer to the crowd’s cheers and applause.
It was reported that Roy’s act was in response to a recent decision by the school district to stop all prayer at graduation ceremonies. Roy discussed his speech with his father before the ceremony. His dad told him not to do it if he was doing it for political reasons. But if it came from his heart, he backed him one-hundred percent.
The school district announced that no disciplinary action would be taken since Roy was now a graduate and nothing could be done. A spokesperson for the district said “The bottom line is, we’re not going to punish students for expressing their religious faiths.”
It’s not uncommon for graduates to speak out on a variety of issues. Graduation seems to draw a particular inclination to use the podium to take a stand on social issues. Although most schools require student addresses be pre-approved by the administration, some students bend the rules and take a tangent. We’ve written before about such incidents and it’s all about free speech and expression. Of course there are limits and a matter of propriety, but there is little in the way of discipline a school can and will want to do once the ceremony concludes.
What are your thoughts about this? Do you think it disrupts a graduation ceremony or spoils it for some students and families? Should a senior be penalized for going off-script?
*Roy’s father stated to Piers Morgan on television after this happened that they are distant cousins of actor Kevin Costner.