Abby Smith, a graduating senior at West Virginia's Parkersburg High School, claims that her principal, Kenneth DeMoss, plagiarized his commencement speech from Ashton Kutcher's monologue at the 2013 Teen Choice Awards. She originally posted the video above on her Facebook page.
According to Yahoo Lifestyle, "the principal directed Yahoo Lifestyle to the district's superintendent, who did not immediately respond to requests for comment, A Google search for "best motivational speech for teens" yields Kutcher's 2013 speech as the second video result."
"So first, the opportunity," principal DeMoss said in the graduation ceremony video. "I believe that opportunity looks a lot like hard work. When I was a kid growing up, I didn't get paid to do chores. I had to do 'em. I had to run the vacuum cleaner, dust the house, clean my room, cut the grass. When I became 15, I had to get my first paid job working as a busboy, so I could pay for my own insurance to help drive my family car. I didn't have my own car, nor was I given one; the family had to share it. Then I got a job working as a waiter; then I got a job selling shoes at the mall, then I got a job being a laborer for a construction company carrying shingles up and down a ladder to a roof and cleaning up job sites. Sometimes I even did two jobs at once. At one point, I was juggling four part-time jobs, like going to college."
"And the greatest thing about that is that I never had a job, in my life that I was better than, that I was too good for," the principal continued in the speech delivered to graduates. "I was lucky to just have a job, and every job I had was a stepping stone to my next job. I never quit my job until I had my next job. And so opportunities, for me, looked like hard work."
Kutcher's speech in 2013 is relatively the same:
"So first opportunity. I believe that opportunity looks a lot like hard work. When I was 13, I had my first job with my dad carrying shingles up to the roof. And then I got a job washing dishes at a restaurant, and then I got a job at a grocery store deli, and then I got a job at a factory sweeping Cheerio dust off the ground. I never had a job in my life that I was better than. I was always just lucky to have a job, and every job I had was just a stepping stone to my next job. I never quit my job until I had my next job. And so, opportunities, look a lot like work."
WTAP reports that DeMoss released the following statement:
Hello this is Kenny DeMoss, Principal of Parkersburg High School, with an important message for all staff, students, and outgoing 2019 graduated seniors. When I began my closing remarks at graduation, I didn’t think that my speech would be the center of attention. The graduates should be. It was an awesome graduation! It is really sad to think that the focus has fallen more on about my closing remarks and I am deeply sorry for that. I am the kind of person who never wants to be the center of attention and for me this is very difficult right now because we deal with way more pressing and important matters on a daily basis from mental health, to students being kicked out of their homes, to abuse, to students having to worry about their next meal. As a proud father and a man of faith, I want to sincerely apologize to those I have obviously offended. It was never my intent to take credit for what I said or give specific credit because of how I prefaced my speech. When I began my speech, by saying “Many of you don’t know much about me other than being a principal, a teacher, or a coach. In these three professions, I have had the chance to hear and share many great ideas and thoughts that have helped me be who I am today, and I want to share that with you.” When I made that statement, that was my preface that these ideas and thoughts that I am about to share, I have heard before, from others, and along with my personal beliefs, have shaped me into who I am as a man, a father, and leader. In hindsight, I wish I would have cited more. Yes, I've seen the online speech by Ashton Kutcher. However, in my experiences, as I have stated, I have heard and seen many similar speeches at coaching and leadership clinics and at professional development that many of you have not. The format of Ashton’s speech I liked the most, because it had the most impact on me. The order of the main points I should have done differently. Being intriguing was completely my word. Trying to be intriguing has helped me pursue and obtain three master’s degrees. I believe being really smart is the most interesting thing about a person. I’ve learned that as a principal and as a coach. Ann Landers once said “that opportunities are disguised as hard work so most people don't recognize them”. Ashton said basically the same thing, so did I, and so did Ann Landers; neither which I specifically cited. I did not get all my ideas from Ashton. Format yes, thoughts and ideas were from my heart. Steve Jobs said “don’t just live a life; build one”; and I even gave him credit for that. It’s totally my fault for not being specific, but I would have to give credit for the format to Ashton, and many of the other things I've heard to various people, and at the closing of a graduation it’s my job to get them out of there and celebrate, and unfortunately when I don’t cite everyone, I'm personally taking a hit. Lesson learned for me. Saying something in which I receive no money for, or academic credit, or a transcribed grade is what led me to not be as specific as I should have been, instead of prefacing with a blanketed statement. In the future, anything that is spoken by me or any other administrator to the public, if it has been said by anyone else, it will be cited. Moving forward, I wish the class of 2019 the best of luck. I hope you have a blessed life and all your dreams come true. Thank you and have a wonderful evening.