Wharton High School’s salutatorian says he waited his entire high school career for one speech.
Seventeen-year-old Harold Shaw was excited to take the stage at his graduation to give his peers inspiration, and thank his family and friends for their years of support.
But he didn’t get to finish.
Halfway through, Principal Bradley Woods cut Shaw’s microphone and ended his speech. A school spokesperson says the salutatorian strayed from his pre-approved speech.
But Shaw says he was robbed of his opportunity for no reason. In a video of his speech, Shaw is heard stumbling over a sentence, and continuing by saying “Just do what it takes.”
Those words were not on the script, and a school spokesperson says the principal did the right thing by ending the speech.
According to Hillsborough County Schools spokesperson Steve Hagerty, Shaw wrote two previous speeches that were deemed inappropriate. The principal even met with Shaw and his mother to discuss his concerns about the student going off script.
But Shaw says after he stumbled, he continued by the script, and sees no reason why he couldn’t finish his speech. In fact he says, he wants an apology.
Shaw believes the incident is retaliation. He produced a video that he posted online showing dirty bathrooms at Wharton, and calling it to the attention of school officials. Hagerty denies the incident had anything to do with the previous videos.
In fact, according to Hagerty, if any incident happens during graduation, the blame falls on the school’s principal. Hagerty says Woods was doing his job by keeping the ceremony on task and on time.
Shaw has hired a lawyer, but he isn’t sure what he’ll do next. Right now he just wants an apology.
His biggest disappointment he says, is not getting to publically thanks his friends, family, and teachers for their support. Now he can only hope to take the stage again when he graduates from the University of Florida in four years.