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CA HS Valedictory Speech Given In Spanish

From the San Jose area news outlet, Westside Connect:

Graduation speech stirs debate

Jun 11th, 2012

NEWMAN – A valedictory speech delivered entirely in Spanish has stirred debate, and the language issue in general could lead to changes in future graduation programs aimed at helping all in attendance follow the proceedings regardless of the language spoken.

Orestimba High Principal Jessie Ceja said he has heard both positive and negative feedback regarding graduation changes in general and the delivery of the valedictory address in Spanish by Saul Tello Jr., the top student in the Class of 2012.

Ceja told Mattos Newspapers [which owns Westside Connect] that the valedictorian asked to give the speech in Spanish and was given approval to do so. “The student earned the right as valedictorian, I feel, and if he felt that way I decided to give him that opportunity,” Ceja explained.

Ceja suggested that the decision also allowed the program to better cater to speakers of both dominant languages in the community. Welcome remarks were given by two students in English and Spanish, Ceja pointed out, and the salutatorian address was presented in English.

Tello, however, told Mattos Newspapers Tuesday that he had asked to present his address in English and Spanish, but was told that there would only be time to present the speech in one language.

Given that choice, Tello said, he decided to speak in Spanish – and before presenting the valedictory address apologized in English to non-Spanish speakers in the audience.

Why apologize if they are the dominant language?

Tello declined to specify who told him he could not present his speech in two languages, saying “it was not that person’s fault.”

Ceja told Mattos Newspapers he was aware of no such request. “If he had come to us and said he wanted both, that would have been fine,” he commented…

Superintendent Ed Felt said that, under the Education Code and a past Supreme Court decision upholding the First Amendment rights of students, he does not believe a speaker could be compelled to present an address in a specific language.

“We could request a student deliver a speech in English, but we would have little to enforce that if the student chose not to,” the superintendent commented

If he had mentioned Jesus Christ in any language, they would have to pull the plug without a second thought.

Two board members reached Monday suggested they wanted to look more deeply into the issue before taking a position.

Board President Kerry McWilliams declined to comment until after speaking with administration.

While acknowledging the controversy, Trustee Paul Wallace said, it is important to remember that the district represents all of its students and constituents regardless of language.

Wallace said he was not going to make a “snap judgment” about an issue that has many complexities

Sometimes it is hard not to think that we are lost as a country.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, June 13th, 2012. Comments are currently closed.

9 Responses to “CA HS Valedictory Speech Given In Spanish”

  1. crosspatch says:

    If it were a kid who had never spoken Spanish in their life until they went to the school, I might tolerate it as a fitting tribute to the quality of the Spanish instruction given by the school and the talent of the student in grasping languages. However, if it was a Hispanic student whose first language was Spanish, I would see it as failure by the school to fully integrate the student into mainstream American culture.

    • Petronius says:


      A really clever valedictorian would have given his speech in Latin.

      (With hand-out translations for his audience to follow.)

  2. David says:

    Ehh, if the majority of his audience understood him then so what. Certainly wouldn’t want the government enforcing some restriction on the first amendment by telling students what language they can speak just to cater to a minority (in his audience anyway). We don’t have and don’t need an “official language”. I don’t think we conservatives should allow this big government idea to take hold in the party. If 100 years from now my great grandkids are speaking spanish but enjoying the fruits of a limited government and free enterprise then it makes no difference to me!

  3. GetBackJack says:

    In Estonia, where they are experiencing a great economy, virtually no debt, nearly full employment and radically little welfare costs … in order to become a Naturalized Citizen, you must learn to speak and write the Estonian language.

    What a quaint idea. From a nation that suffered under the vicious boot heel of Communism.

  4. Petronius says:

    Note that this was one of those new “ethnic graduations.” The valedictorian in the photo is wearing his ethnic colors over his robes.

    A good rule of thumb : When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

    Be that as it may, when it comes to the English language issue, I am of two minds. I am inclined to the opinion that worse is better. It is probably better for us (indigenous Americans) if our barbarian conquerors do not speak our language.

    Thus a multiplicity of languages promotes political clarity. It loosens social cohesion and undermines political order. It serves to separate, fragment, isolate, identify, and Balkanize. It underscores the difference between them and us, between those who belong here and those who do not, between those who come to join those already here and those who come to take over, between the power of the invaders and the dispossession of the indigenous Americans.

    To the average Joe American, these foreign languages are a constant source of stress and irritation, a constant reminder of the alien, ant-like, conqueror aspect of out-of-control immigration, open borders, and multikulturalism. Ultimately it may lead to a deep reawakening, perhaps even American-American solidarity, perhaps even to a reassertion of our political independence before it is too late.

    But I doubt it. Nothing can stop the decline once the will-to-live is gone.

  5. Liberals Demise says:

    Where’s the sombrero, punk?

  6. wirenut says:

    Petronius, you, as well as others here are always a good read. Thank you! Stuff like this leaves even the most polite conservative in bristles. Next, will be the “LGBT”, OWS crowd.
    Not on our watch my friend, not on our watch.

  7. yadayada says:

    if the valedictorian were “genderconfused” would they let it give the speech in drag?

  8. canary says:

    David, your rationality means the President of the U.S. should be able to speak in Spanish.

    Of course Obama would choose Arabic if he could.

    It was not a Mexican school, and no mention the majority spoke Spanish considering the complaints.

    No rule the valedictorian can say what ever he wants, and those Spanish students most likely speak English, so English it should have been.

    Recall in the bible when the idiots were building a tower to heaven, they didn’t get far because they spoke different languages.

    Another problem I have with your post is foreigners in the medical field in America who can’t understand or speak English well.

    United we stand! Divided we fall.

    Foreigners who don’t learn English in this country could be illiterate and ignorant.

    Imagine if Spanish American soldiers decided to speak in Spanish with not regard for their fellow troops.

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