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Valedictorians are to be seen, not heard

/ Source: The Associated Press

The valedictorian of Gallatin High School is still waiting for his diploma after he tried to steal the microphone at his graduation and deliver the speech traditionally given by the student body president.

Chris Linzy, 18, grabbed the microphone as his name was called out Friday with the rest of his classmates and said about two sentences before he was cut off.

"I just felt like I had something to say," Linzy said Monday after meeting with school Principal Rufus Lassiter. "Nothing against the speech by the student body president, but I felt like what I had to say was equally important."

"I'm a little bit frustrated. I felt like I should be able to speak. I was the valedictorian, and I was the one who achieved the most," Linzy said.

Lassiter said school officials have not awarded the diploma and were still trying to decide what action to take against Linzy. After the meeting, it was agreed that Linzy would write letters of apology to school faculty and the Sumner County School Board.

"It drew attention to Chris instead of the 2006 graduation class," Lassiter said of the stunt. "We had 270 people who were just perfect. We had a great night, and we had one that wanted to call attention to himself."

The school has allowed the student body president to speak for about 30 years, Lassiter said. Family and friends are also encouraged to stay quiet so that the name of each student can be heard.

Schools Director Benny Bills said other valedictorians have asked in the past why they weren't allowed to talk at graduation, but he doesn't expect the tradition to change.

"This young man violated protocol," Bills said. "As he came up for his name to be read, he just grabbed the microphone."

The student's father, David Linzy, said the move was unusual for his son.

"I never ever would have expected it of him, but if my son — who is probably the quietest person in the world — felt the need to get up there to speak, he must have felt very strongly," his father said.

Linzy said his son has already been awarded scholarships to attend the engineering program at University of Tennessee in Knoxville.