"A lot of you were jerks."
December 27, 2003 3:41 PM   Subscribe

"A lot of you were jerks." It's one of those scenes that could've been lifted from a John Hughes teen coming-of-age movie. An unpopular kid gets the joke vote for class valedictorian, and he uses the opportunity provided by the valedictory speech to chastise them. Has this ever happened at your high school? If you had a chance to go back (or perhaps forward) in time and address your high school graduating class, what would you say?
posted by AccordionGuy (36 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
...and unfortunately for you, I just drank the rest of the antidote.
posted by Jairus at 4:01 PM on December 27, 2003

that has to be one of the worst-written news stories I've ever read.
posted by akmonday at 4:01 PM on December 27, 2003

Indeed. With only 2-3 lines of excerpts from the actual speech, it's impossible to tell what the guy said that was so controversial. "A lot of you were jerks" and "You didn't expect me to be up here" barely merit a national news story.
posted by mdeatherage at 4:06 PM on December 27, 2003

First Paragraph:

"The final instalment in a week-long series on ordinary Canadians who showed extraordinary courage."
posted by stbalbach at 4:10 PM on December 27, 2003

If you had a chance to go back (or perhaps forward) in time and address your high school graduating class, what would you say?

I'd pass. Or wasn't that an option?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:15 PM on December 27, 2003

It is badly written, but good for that guy--I'm proud of how he handled that. It also seems like the principal is maybe more clueless than most.
posted by amberglow at 4:17 PM on December 27, 2003

I'd name everyone I'd had sex with. 20 years later, the town would still be reeling with the scandal.
posted by WolfDaddy at 4:18 PM on December 27, 2003

While that was amusing, it was indeed very poorly written, and kind of screwed with what actually happened. As for "voting" for valedictorian, I'm not sure how that works because when i was in HS, it was the top student via grades - there was a tie but it was voted on by faculty, not the students. Everyone knew who it was the whole time.

As for class president, one year it was a random ass person who got voted in, and ended up staying there for a bit. It started as a joke, but then he got into it, and was elected. In our school, if you didn't "run", you would not be allowed to win.
posted by djspicerack at 4:34 PM on December 27, 2003

Hey, this happened pissing-distance from where my parents live (and where I am right now over Christmas break). Wacky. For some reason, student government at schools throughout the golden horshoe is fucked up. My high school had a treasurer and latter president whose speech to the student body began "Some people call me a racist, some people call me a paedophile. Well, they're right."
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 4:40 PM on December 27, 2003

After I left my highschool managed to put a monkey named 'hoju' on the ballot for student council president. Unfortunately the principal got wind of it and ruined everyone's fun before the voting.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:57 PM on December 27, 2003

(I don't think it was an actual monkey, just an amusing photo for use on posters)
posted by Space Coyote at 4:58 PM on December 27, 2003

I agree that there should have been much more of the text of the speech in the story (I guess it was mostly improvised, but I bet they film these things nowadays), but personally, apart from that lapse, I found the style of the writing quite enjoyable. I mean it wasn't trying to be a searching exploration of the psycho-social state of North American high schools, just a good story--and I thought it was. If anybody sees more reporting on this story, though, I hope they'll be kind enough to link to it.
posted by uosuaq at 4:59 PM on December 27, 2003

and unfortunately for you, I just drank the rest of the antidote

Yes. I had considered "the detonation will occur in ten seconds" as a similar line for an alumni reunion.
posted by raygirvan at 5:42 PM on December 27, 2003

technically ("the best kind of correct!") a valediction is just a farewell speech. which traditionally seems to go to the highest-graded student as a reward or punishment or some such, but is interesting to see that not everyone follows that tradition.

while I agree that the article was poorly written and confusing, I definitely like to imagine that the speech was very just and biting. more geeks need to stand up for themselves, I like this kid's style.
posted by dorian at 5:44 PM on December 27, 2003

Boo yeah! This guy is great.
posted by tiamat at 6:51 PM on December 27, 2003

Not to beat a dead horse, but I'm amazed a professional news organization would let a piece that poorly-assembled, -written and -edited see the light of day. So, while as a result, it is kinda difficult to see what he had to say that was so very troublesome, I bet it was a whole lot truer than the proto-corporate happytalk and redacting that reigns at these things...

...that neither starts nor ends with high school. I remember a chump administrator at NYU named Al Greco going up and down the line of seniors about to graduate, including myself, and ordering them to remove all political/protest material from their gowns, at penalty of not crossing the stage. It's bad enough at the high school level, when you might expect provincial values to triumph here and there, but from NYU?

At any rate, good for Andrew Ironside, and a deeply-felt "serves you right" to the asshole "popular" kids who set him up, hearts full of malice.
posted by adamgreenfield at 6:57 PM on December 27, 2003

For all you people poo pooing this as bad journalism... It's the National Post. Poor writer is a requirement to work there. That said, compared to what they usually publish, this is above average. I met a journalist from the paper a few years back and she was proud of the fact that she lied in her articles (praised books she hated and vice versa). She claimed to hate journalism and didn't know why she bothered doing it. Last time I checked, she was still writing for them. The photographer I met from there was equally inept.

Regardless, I think what the kid did was great. Would like to read his speech, though. I assume that's it that he's holding up in his yearbook.
posted by dobbs at 7:41 PM on December 27, 2003

It's better that the jerks he referred to heard it this way than Columbine style. High School is painful as hell for alot of people, and it's usually because of the actions of a cabal of students. Kudos to him for calling them out.
posted by vito90 at 8:07 PM on December 27, 2003

I love how the principal blames the alienation a student like Ironside might have felt on academic pressure, the fact that the class "had bigger things on their mind than parties and prom dates." Because we all know that geeky, alienated students do best in an enviroment where the focus is on prom dates.
posted by transona5 at 8:17 PM on December 27, 2003

A lot of you are jerks.
posted by pekar wood at 9:11 PM on December 27, 2003

"It's the National Post. Poor writer is a requirement to work there."

Hmmm... They hiring?
posted by ZachsMind at 9:19 PM on December 27, 2003

Good for Andrew! I'd love to see what else he said too.

My school also decided the valedictorian by grades. No voting involved there.
posted by SisterHavana at 9:26 PM on December 27, 2003

I get the impression that after crumpling up the abandoned prozac speech, Andrew wrapped things up with "A lot of you were jerks. I'll probably never see any of you again." el fin..

Our valedictorian was chosen by a student/staff panel from a group of students that auditioned with prepared speeches...lo and behold we got a good speech at the graduation ceremony. Seems obvious that grades and popularity have little to do with oratory skill.
posted by StrangerInAStrainedLand at 11:58 PM on December 27, 2003

"I come to you, students and faculty, to bring a very serious problem to light today. Principal ribbon did indeed have sex with a male prostitute 3 months ago, and it just so happens that he is right here to tell you all how they met."
posted by Keyser Soze at 2:41 AM on December 28, 2003

MetaFilter: A lot of you are jerks
posted by Eirixon at 3:31 AM on December 28, 2003

There is a similar scene at the beginning of "Broadcast News," followed by a scene of the valedictorian getting beaten up by the jocks. Rent it at a Ballbuster Video near you!
posted by Outlawyr at 4:13 AM on December 28, 2003

But 'jerks' is so non-pc. Compassionately challenged.
posted by HTuttle at 4:55 AM on December 28, 2003

Speaking of rigged high school elections, a few of my friends "arranged" for Ministry's "Stigmata" to be chosen as the class song for the Senior Prom. I voted early and often. It made it to the final three, but eventually got beaten out, probably by Billy Joel or Bobby Brown or something.
posted by Ty Webb at 8:30 AM on December 28, 2003

for the latter half of high school, I was both on probation (any offense = expulsion) and also the tv news "anchor," a volatile combination for a shit-stirrer such as myself.
posted by mcsweetie at 8:36 AM on December 28, 2003

Speaking of rigged high school elections, a few of my friends "arranged" for Ministry's "Stigmata" to be chosen as the class song for the Senior Prom.
We did a similar thing for class slogan (stupid custom) -- we wanted "Fuck You in 82" but even with overwhelming popular support it didn't happen. Ah, memories....We also tried to get Our Lips Are Sealed ("Can you see them? They talk about us, telling lies. Well, that's no surprise...") as the song but failed at that too (it ended up being springsteen). boy, i'm old : >
posted by amberglow at 8:46 AM on December 28, 2003

I got my college diploma whilst wearing no pants. Some people thought it was funny.
posted by timb at 9:07 AM on December 28, 2003

Our class voted for the song "The First Time," by Surface, as our senior prom theme. Needless to say, that was a bit of a, shall we say, controversial pick...and the "official" theme became "Forever Young."
posted by SisterHavana at 6:54 PM on December 28, 2003

our valedictorian was chosen based on his or her (in our case his) grades, but we also had a senior speaker, who was chosen by audition in front of a panel of teachers and student council members. i always thought that was a pretty effective way of deciding what would happen at graduation: ideally, the valedictorian had a forum, as did someone who was chosen to accurately represent the graduating class. in this case, ideally is the operative word.
posted by bluishorange at 2:19 AM on December 29, 2003

Not to toot my own horn, but I delivered a pretty scathing address to my graduating class entitled "Eulogy to the Bovine Populace." As it was my intention from the start to berate my classmates, it had much more thought put into it than the ad-libbed "you're a bunch of jerks" comment of Mr. Ironside, though there's a certain rawness in impromptu tongue-lashings that can be quite effective. I think I still have it around here if anyone's interested in excerpts.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:51 AM on December 29, 2003

I'm in favour of any valedictory address that doesn't start with "two roads diverged in a wood and I..."
posted by Robot Johnny at 12:00 PM on December 29, 2003

SisterHavana, my graduating class voted Garth Brooks' Friends In Low Places as official song, but it was changed by the faculty to Life Is A Highway.
posted by Monk at 2:26 PM on December 29, 2003

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