Calvary valedictorian's graduation speech stopped, escorted off stage

Updated: May. 19, 2017 at 11:07 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - After a graduate at a Shreveport private school was escorted from the stage, the incident has generated talk and controversy about why it was stopped.

During Thursday's graduation ceremony, the superintendent of Calvary Baptist Academy stopped the school's third and final valedictorian speech in mid-sentence. For the school's administration, it was a simple case of a student going 'off script' that prompted her speech to be stopped.

But to friends and family, it was about much more: the speech was a way for 18-year-old Hailey-Lou Vaske to stand up for herself and what she feels is right.

A video shot by one of Vaske's relatives showed Superintendent Chad McDowell approach the podium, grab the microphone and tell Vaske, "You're dismissed."

Despite pleas from family and friends in the audience, Vaske was promptly escorted out of the ceremony by a deputy.

In the video, you can hear Vaske's family members yell 'Let her talk!' 'Let her talk. You're messing with her first amendment rights!'

Now, one day later from the comfort of her family living room, Vaske read us the final sentences from her speech about the administration that got her booted out.

"But there are others, including administration and counselors that cause more distress than comfort by endangering scholarship opportunities, cause humiliation in front of peers and family and endorse behavior and actions only because of who you are and who you knew. How you gonna beat that?"

But they stopped her before she could finish the last 15 words.

"They didn't know what else I was going to say. Afraid of what I was going to say," Vaske said.

In a statement released to the media, Superintendent McDowell stated that students are warned that deviating from approved speeches may result in removal from the graduation ceremony. McDowell said quote:

"Unfortunately, we had a student last night choose to ignore these instructions and therefore received the consequences."

Vaske explained much of their troubles all stemmed from a critical ACT test she took last winter to help earn a 4-year, $60,000 scholarship to Baylor University; a test she says somehow was mailed so late by Calvary's administration, that she almost lost that scholarship.

The dispute between Vaske and Calvary may not be over just yet. That's because her family told us that if her transcripts are not sent over to Baylor University by July her scholarship could be in jeopardy. 

If that happens the family says this could end up becoming a lawsuit.

Vaske's family says they've already spoken with an attorney but hope this matter doesn't have to end up in court, where they believe Hailey-Lou would get the last word.

Vaske added since she was removed from the graduation ceremony, she was unable to walk with other classmates and receive her diploma.

She's hoping it will come in the mail sometime soon.

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