An annual assembly at Lewis and Clark High School has been receiving a lot of attention this year because of a few choice words a student used to end his speech to classmates.
Nick Cashaw, 18, urged his fellow students to reject the status quo and find out who they are during the Move-Up Con, which celebrates the high school and the achievements of its graduating seniors.
Lewis and Clark Principal Shawn Jordan said the speech had a good message, until the last three words: “(expletive) this establishment.”
Now, Cashaw said he has been suspended indefinitely from Lewis and Clark, can’t attend his graduation ceremony and can’t attend his senior all-nighter as a consequence. He will still receive his diploma.
“I knew the school would do something,” he said.
He said he’s not too worried about his punishment and doesn’t regret his decision to use profanity in his speech. Now that he has finished high school, he has plans to either move to Seattle to pursue a music career or attend Eastern Washington University.
The speech has been posted on YouTube. As of Friday, it had been viewed more that 1,200 times.
Cashaw, an aspiring hip-hop artist who performs under the name Concept, said the speech was inspired by his own observations of the world and he wanted to share that with his classmates.
“We’re born into this world and it’s set a certain way,” he said. “That’s not the way it needs to be.”
The last sentence was important to Cashaw because he felt it may have been forgotten or overlooked if he didn’t add some shock value to bring home what he had been talking about.
“I felt like it really topped off the speech,” he said. “I felt it was necessary to include it.”
Jordan said students often make poor decisions and he likes to give them the opportunity to express remorse and apologize. If a student chooses not to do that, it tends to fester and resonate with others in the school.
“My door is always open when students want to make things right,” Jordan said.
The principal said events like graduation and the senior all-nighter are a privilege and he thought carefully about the school’s response. He said there have been signs posted in information areas of the school supporting his decision.
Cashaw has received a lot of support for his speech as well. His Facebook page is covered with messages from fellow students and friends who liked his message and his delivery.
“That makes it all worth it,” Cashaw said.