rebelling against low expectations

Full Text of Brittany McComb’s Speech


On June 15, 2006 the Clark County School District halted the graduation speech of Foothill High School valedictorian Brittany McComb. District officials said Brittany’s references to Christianity amounted to proselytizing. Below is the full-text of Ms. McComb’s speech. (HT: Review-Journal)

Do you remember those blocks? The ones that fit into cut-outs and teach you all the different shapes? The ones you played with before kindergarten, during the good old, no-grades, no-pressure preschool days? I find it funny how easily amused we are as children. Many of us would have sat on the story rug for hours with those blocks, trying to fit the circle into the square cut-out. Thank the Lord for patient teachers.

As one of the valedictorians for our senior class, many might assume I caught on to which blocks fit into which cut-outs quickly. But, to be honest, it took me awhile. Up until my freshman year in high school, I continually filled certain voids with shapes that proved often peculiar and always too small.

The main shape I wrestled with over the years remains my accomplishments. They defined my self-worth at a young age. I swam competitively throughout junior high and high school. If I took third in a competition rather than first, I found I missed the mark; I failed.

But strangely enough, if I took first, I belittled my success, and even first place left me feeling empty. Either way, the shape entitled “accomplishments” proved too small to fill the void, constantly reminding me living means something more. Something more than me and what I do with my life, something more than my friends and what they do with their own lives.

The summer after my freshman year, I quit swimming. I quit trying to fill the huge void in my soul with the meager accomplishments I obtained there. After quitting, this amazing sense of peace rushed over me and I noticed, after 15 years of sitting on the story-time rug, this teacher standing above me, trying to help me: God. I disregarded His guidance for years, and all the while, He sought to show me what shape fits into the cut-out in my soul.

This hole gapes as a wide-open trench when filled with swimming, with friends, with family, with dating, with shopping, with partying, with drinking, with anything but God. But His love fits. His love is “that something more” we all desire. It’s unprejudiced, it’s merciful, it’s free, it’s real, it’s huge and it’s everlasting [audience cheering and applause]. God’s love is so great that he gave His only son up . . . [Microphone goes dead here.]

Interestingly enough, the school officials knew what was coming next when they cut Brittany’s mike — they had read her speech beforehand and edited out references to God, to Christ, and the Bible. Brittany determined to deliver her speech unedited as an expression of her freedom of speech, but was prevented from doing so.

Below is the rest of the speech Brittany planned to give. School officials called it proselytizing. Brittany says she was just attributing her success in school to Christ and introducing her classmates to the Person who had made the biggest difference in her life.

[His only son up . . .] to an excruciating death on a cross so His blood would cover all our shortcomings and provide for us a way to heaven in accepting this grace.

This is why Christ died. John 10:10 says He died so we no longer have to reach in vain for the magnificence of the stars and find we always fall short, so we can have life — and life to the fullest. I now desire not my own will, but the will of God for my life — however crazy and extravagant, or seemingly mundane and uneventful that might be. Strangely enough, surrendering my own will for the will of God, giving up control, gave me peace, gave me a calm I can’t even begin to express with words.

Four years ago, recognition as one of the valedictorians for our senior class would have been just another attempt to fit the circle into the square cut-out. But because my heart is so full of God’s love, the honor of speaking today is just that: an honor. Without it, I would feel just as full and purposeful as I do at this moment.

And I can guarantee, 100 percent, no doubt in my mind, that as I choose to fill myself with God’s love rather than with the things society tells me will satisfy me, I will find success, I will always retain a sense of self-worth. I will thrive whether I attend a prestigious university next fall and become a successful career man or woman or begin a life-long manager position at McDonald’s.

Because the fact of the matter remains, man possesses an innate desire to take part in something greater than himself. That something is God’s plan. And God’s plan for each of our lives may not leave us with an impressive and extensive resume, but if we pursue His plan, He promises to fill us. Jeremiah 29:11 says, ” ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’ ”

Trust me, this block fits.

For our full coverage of Brittany McComb’s story, click here.

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About the author

Alex and Brett Harris

are the co-founders of and co-authors of Do Hard Things and Start Here. They have a passion for God and for their generation. Their personal interests include politics, filmmaking, music, and basketball. They are both graduates of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia.


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  • Brittany’s speech was very well written and was very close to proselytising; however, she did not ask her audience to accept Jesus Christ as their saviour. She merely attributed her success to Jesus instead of some abstact idea. She gave her reason for her success and justified it with examples. Her speech would have made no sense had she not done so, and she would have not exemplified her valedictorian status either.

    The American Civil Liberties Union is being hypocritical in condemning Ms. McCombs when they would turn around and praise a Muslim for the same thing. (Watch the movie Skokie with Danny Kaye to exemplify what I mean. It was a real event.) She was not endorsing the School Districts ideologies nor was she required to do so.

    Way to go Brittany. No matter what the politically correct ACLU hipocrites say, your speech is constitutionally protected even if the big wig liberal judges disagree. It just makes them even more incompetant in their positions.

  • This is precisely why Christianity is getting a bad name. No matter how you slice it, what she did was wrong. People were not there for spiritual fellowship or guidance; they were there to see the fruits of their labors for the past twelve years . . . the beginning of a new chapter in life. The young lady used a captive audience to evangelize full well knowing it was inappropriate . . . in essense pulling a fast one.

    God does not pull fast ones . . . period. She should be ashamed of herself as should anyone who would condone what amounts to no less than cheap telemarking ploys (how many of us have to suffer through that annoying phone call in the middle of dinner.)

    Thank Jesus. Thank God. Say how you couldn’t have done it without Him. Save the sermon for Church. This is truly doing His will.

  • When I look over this speech, it is nothing more than evangelizing…did she know her speech was out of line by the school district? Had she been warned this was inappropiete? If so, then she deserves whatever punishment she receives. If she truly stands up for God, then she will accept the consequences of her actions gracefully, as did the woman of the sufferage movement, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King! the all took a stand for the things they felt were worth fighting for…….and they took the punishment that came with it! DO the same here young lady!

  • I can see how many individuals such as Andrea or Kevin would disagree with what she said. Andrea even quoted Romans 13:1-2 about being subject to authority.

    However even that is questionable, because in our democratic society we as citizens are very much that authority. Another important point when considering Romans in context to this speech is that Federal Law allows graduation speakers to make mention of God and the imporance religion plays in their lifes. Their speeches cannot cross into the realm of proselytizing (inviting people to come to Christ).

    While she did come very close to this line, she never formally invited her classmates to accept Christ. She just express what he has done in her life.

    As for the statment of what would we do if an individual of another religion talked about how their god played an important role in their life. The answer is we would love on them and in doing so be respectful enough to listen. By doing so this would make us a light in the darkness for them or anyone else watching, so they may see God’s greatness.

    I also feel the matter of her giving the administation the impression she give the edited speech is a minute point.

    I will also end with a passage from Acts.

    [Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questined by the high priest. “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.” Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men!”] Acts 5:27-29

  • She was censored because, in the opinion of the school authorities, she crossed the line into proselytizing which was against school rules. We may not all agree that this was proselytizing but the school rules are applied equally to other religions. It was a mandatory school event under which school rules have authority. The rules were consistent with constitutional case law which allow schools to limit student speech. Conservative judges have decided that school speech does not have the same protections as speech for adults. Students are perceived by the court as requiring adult supervision. I can’t say that I disagree with the court.

    She is a very articulate and talented young woman, but she shouldn’t be wasting the taxpayers money on defending her lawsuit. She has been given far more media access than most people ever get. She can’t honestly claim that her free speech rights have been denied.

    Maintaining order and discipline in the schools is required to provide an education to all. Students need freedom, but that freedom must be within limits so that all can learn. I think that the school administration did an excellent job of setting reasonable limits in this situation. I applaud them.

  • Greetings,
    After reading Brittany’s speech I’ve concluded that she is a talented writer and that her express purpose for that speech was proselytization. That was an improper use of that forum. I am Christian by the way and I found that speech impositional and irritating.
    It is not for us as believers to bludgeon all those around us with our faith. Especially when the audience is captive, as it would be in an auditorium during a graduation.
    Brittany overstepped her bounds and the school was right in cutting her off.

    Ad Astra Per Aspera,

  • That’s a great speech! I love the sentence, “It’s unprejudiced, it’s mericiful, it’s free, it’s real, it’s huge and it’s everlasting.” What a great testimony.

  • That is an incredible speech. There is no way that it could have been edited and still made sense. I hope that the fact that her free speech was cut will cause people to find out how she would have finished it.

  • I agree that Brittany had a great speech, it just wasn’t right for that situation. Brittany was under the authority of the school, and they have to have guidelines. What if someone believing in Muhammad went up there and started preaching? We would want to silence him too. If she mentioned God and Christ once or twice, talking about how He changed her life that would be fine. But when she starts to elaborate, then there is a problem. She didn’t stay by her word to stick to her approved speech. In a sense, it didn’t give God glory, she disobeyed the rules, and went against her authority. What will the school authorities think now, if someone tries to tell them about the love of God, and how He changes lives? The possibility is very high that they will remember Brittany, and how she disobeyed her authority and lied, yet says she is a Christian. It did God an ill-favor; I think.
    Does anyone agree?

    “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. ” Romans 13:1-2

  • I’m so proud of our youth after reading this speech our preacher told us the girl’s name today in service and I looked it up. Thanks for maintaining this site. I will revisit often.

rebelling against low expectations

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