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March 1, 2020
Vol. 77
No. 6

Seen on the Screen / Empowered Valedictorian

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School Culture
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A lesson to remember for school leaders: Three years ago, Peter Butera, a high school valedictorian in Exeter, Pennsylvania, went off script during his graduation speech to criticize the powerlessness of his school's student government and the overly authoritative bearing of some teachers and administrators. As if to his illustrate his point, Butera's mic was promptly cut off and he was ushered off the stage, much to the chagrin of attendees. But the story didn't end there. The incident became a viral sensation, and Butera was soon invited to finish his speech before a national television audience on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live. He spoke eloquently about student empowerment as a key component of preparation for the future. "Whoever cut that mic off should not be in charge of education of any kind," Kimmel commented. Watch the segment from Jimmy Kimmel Live at

EL’s experienced team of writers and editors produces Educational Leadership magazine, an award-winning publication that reaches hundreds of thousands of K-12 educators and leaders each year. Our work directly supports the mission of ASCD: To empower educators to achieve excellence in learning, teaching, and leading so that every child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. 

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