Valedictorian rips up approved graduation speech, talks about religion instead

Published: Wednesday, June 5 2013 5:00 p.m. MDT

LHS Graduation Valedictorian Speech

LIBERTY, S.C. — Roy Costner IV started his high school graduation speech in an unconventional manner: He ripped his previously approved speech in half for the audience to see and instead spoke from a different manuscript that included religious matters.

“Those that we look up to, they have helped carve and mold us into the young adults that we are today,” Costner said. “I’m so thankful that both of my parents led me to the Lord at a young age.”

Costner’s address opposed the Pickens County’s decision to exclude prayers from graduation ceremonies. School districts within South Carolina received complaints about religion at board meetings and other issues, so officials opted to replace prayer at high school graduations with a moment of silence, according to Christian News.

The audience received Costner’s speech well, and he elicited applause and cheers as he recited the Lord’s Prayer from the New Testament.

“I think most of you will understand when I say, ‘Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name ... ,'” Costner recited.

Comments on the YouTube clip call Costner’s actions courageous and inspiring.

“I am a teacher of 29 years and I would have been applauding the young man,” said Brenda Billings in a comment on YouTube. “Thank God there are still young people out there that love the Lord and are not afraid to stand up for their beliefs.”

Costner will not face any disciplinary action from the school district.

“The bottom line is, we’re not going to punish students for expressing their religious faiths,” said John Eby, Pickens County school district spokesman. “He’s a graduate now. There’s nothing we can do about it, even if we wanted to.”

Abby Stevens is an intern for the DeseretNews.com Faith and Family sections. She is a recent graduate of Brigham Young University–Idaho. Contact Abby at astevens@deseretdigital.com.

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