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Mayor responds to valedictorian speech controversy

Jul 9, 2018

Credit Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

Mayor Lovely Warren  on Monday responded to controversy over her decision to let UPrep valedictorian Jaisaan Lovett speak at City Hall.

The graduate gave his valedictorian speech on the city's  YouTube page when the president of the school denied him from speaking at graduation.

Warren was quite emphatic about her decision to give Lovett a platform, saying far too often, we only talk about kids in the city in a negative way.

"And here, I felt that I want this to be emulated, I want children to stand up, I want them to know that when they work hard, when they do the right thing, when they achieve, when they have extraordinary success, that this city will stand behind them."

Lovett was the first black valedictorian at UPrep since its first graduating class in 2015, and Warren says she just wanted his accomplishments to be a moment of praise rather than a moment of regret.

"We're going to shout it from the rooftops. That we have a young man in our city on a full academic scholarship that has done everything that he can possibly do to achieve and work hard, and we're going to highlight that here."

UPrep President Joseph Munno announced he was retiring Monday morning.

Warren said this story shouldn’t be about Munno retiring or the school itself; it’s simply about celebrating a successful student in the city of Rochester.

The school has not released yet why Lovett was not allowed to give his speech at graduation.