[NOTE: the original post’s headline ended with the creative word, “defeinitely,” I know not why. My demon proofer caught it yesterday, but I just read his alert. I’m sorry.]
Principal Mark Stenner delivered the commencement address for the May 22 graduation ceremonies for West Boca High School. It may have sounded faintly familiar to some of the those in the audience; after all, Massachusetts’ English teacher David McCullough, gave virtually the same speech to the class of 2012 at Wellesley High School. That speech went viral on YouTube with more than 2.5 million views. Known as the “You Are Not Special” speech, it got McCullough, the son of Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough, a book deal. Principal Stenner repeated this famous, extensively circulated speech almost word for word, never mentioning McCullough. He did make slight word changes and altered locations examples when necessary, but it was the same speech, and the plagiarism was noticed almost immediately.
Stenner has insisted that he didn’t plagiarize the address from the son of Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough. “I liked his idea. I should have said this was in part taken from him, ” he said. “In part,” in this case, means cutting some of the original, but including details like referencing ‘batty Aunt Sylvia” and the “maternal caped crusader,” and citing the same philosophers as McCullough, like Sophocles and Thoreau, but not crediting the man who wrote almost every word of the speech.