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Springstead High valedictorian's banned graduation speech finds wider audience

Spring hill

Banned speech finds wider audience

Jem Lugo wanted her classmates to know that the ho-hum valedictory speech she read at Thursday's Springstead High School graduation wasn't what she had in mind.

Lugo, an 18-year-old Spring Hill resident bound for Harvard University, was forced to tone down her original — and at times irreverent — speech at the behest of school officials.

Now the world seems to know.

The St. Petersburg Times wrote about Lugo's rewrite Friday, printing excerpts from both speeches. They were posted in their entirety on, where the story got more than 31,000 hits.

Radio stations from Vero Beach; Fargo, N.D.; and Toronto sought out Lugo for interviews.

Producers from the CBS Early Show invited Lugo to fly to New York City to appear on the show this morning. She would have been able to read at least some of her rejected speech on the air, said associate producer Warren Serink.

Lugo couldn't be reached by the Times Friday, but she did get back to CBS with regrets, Serink said. "She said that she was going to graduation parties all weekend," he said.

Tony Marrero, Times staff writer

Read the original speech at

Springstead High valedictorian's banned graduation speech finds wider audience 06/05/09 [Last modified: Saturday, June 6, 2009 7:12am]
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© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


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