Some G.W. High School honor students upset they can't speak at g - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Some G.W. High School honor students upset they can't speak at graduation

Posted: Updated:

A student who first made headlines after speaking out about a controversial sex speaker said she's now facing another issue; graduation.

George Washington High School student Katelyn Campbell said she received quite the surprise this week when she and five other honor students reported to Principal George Aulenbacher's office.

She said he told them their already pre-approved graduation speeches weren't going to happen anymore.  Breaking away from tradition, only the top two students with highest honors were going to be allowed to speak.

"Why are we finding out now a week before graduation that we will no longer be able to speak, when this policy has already been in place and that it has been advertised that we were going to be able to speak?" she asked.

Aulenbacher said the decision came from a new county-wide policy that the Board of Education decided on last year.

Assistant Superintendent Mark Milam sent out a memo to principals across the county last week reminding them of the changes.

Part of it reads, "I would ask that you be mindful to limit the number of speakers, both students and guests if at all possible so the ceremonies can be swift, honorable, and ceremoniously as well as any other presentations you normally may perform that night."

While the county is trying to streamline the graduation process, each high school is taking this new policy differently.  Some schools are allowing two speakers and some are allowing more.

In the past, the right to speak at graduation only applied to students with 'highest honors', like Campbell.  This means the student has at least a 4.5 GPA and took numerous honors courses.

Aulenbacher made the decision to allow only the top two students to speak even though a handful of others were originally told they could also speak.

Campbell does not think the change will make the ceremony any quicker.

"Each of us were only allotted two minutes to speak. So, really, if that's streamlining, for the sake of being last minute, that's kind of ridiculous," she said.

Campbell hopes Aulenbacher changes his mind so she and others can recite the speeches they wrote weeks ago.

Aulenbacher said the new policy slipped his mind.  He said he did not mean to tell the students last minute but does not plan on reversing his decision.