Smallville Torch

Volume 50, Issue 47 | 2001

THE MOST CONTROVERSIAL SPEECH EVER GIVEN IN SMALLVILLE

Twenty-four years ago, the SHS prom theme was “Saturday Night Fever,” Styx was voted band of the century, and in an unprecedented event, SHS valedictorian Laura Potter (mother of current SHS student Lana Lang) delivered a graduation speech that was never transcribed in the Torch due to its “controversial nature.” Well, today, since the Torch is all about controversy, we have decided to reprint the address in its entirety, because, as with most censored speech, it contains the words that most forcefully speak the truth. We hope you get as much from it as we did here at the Torch.

Ladies and gentlemen, graduating seniors: good evening. Those familiar words open every graduation speech at Smallville High, and I use them deliberately because the rest of my speech will not be so reassuring. I never made a difference here, but maybe my children can.

When I first came to Smallville High, I was full of hope. Hope that I could make an impact. That it would be different for me. That I could change Smallville instead of letting it change me. Unfortunately, four years later, I stand before you as valedictorian of the graduating class of 1977, and all I can tell you is that you should be ashamed of yourselves.

I know these speeches are supposed to be about memories, about shared moments that will last a lifetime. But my best memory of Smallville is the day I realized I could leave this town behind.

Though my memories are few, my regrets are many. I regret that I didn’t stand up for James Alexander when he was picked on in the cafeteria. That I didn’t speak up when Sally Adams left town because she was socially excommunicated by a group of girls she called friends. I should have spoken out, should have said something, should have raised my voice in protest. But I didn’t. I sat quietly with my mouth shut, just like the rest of you.

I put on my cheerleading uniform and my pom-pom smile, and when the going got rough, I recessed into a book. That’s probably what got me here in front of you today. But I’d happily give it all back if I could. I’d trade in the pom-poms and the straight A’s and the college acceptance for just one thing: the chance to stand up for what was right. So you see, you should be ashamed of yourselves, but no one is more ashamed than I.

Good luck with your futures. I hope you leave the cruelty and ignorance behind–I know I will.

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