Nebraska high school student goes off script after getting ChatGPT-written graduation speech approved

Grand Island Public Schools graduation ceremony takes unexpected turn

A Nebraska high school student says he used ChatGPT to write a graduation speech that was approved by his district before he veered off-script at the podium, telling his classmates, "I don’t know about y'all, but I hated school," a report says. 

Kenny Morales delivered those remarks during a graduation ceremony for Grand Island Senior High students on Sunday, according to The Grand Island Independent.  

A Grand Island Public Schools spokesman confirmed to FOX Business on Thursday that the content of the AI-written speech was permitted by the district but would not comment further. 

In his actual speech, titled "Opening Pandora’s Box," Morales said, "We lie, we pretend and we hide the truth with selective facts on positive things occurring around the school, instead of being honest and addressing the issues head on," The Grand Island Independent reported. 


Grand Island High School in Nebraska

Kenny Morales reportedly spoke Sunday at a graduation ceremony at Grand Island Senior High School in Grand Island, Nebraska. (Google Maps)

"We attempt to fix the issue by pulling them like weeds instead of fixing the underlying issue," he reportedly continued, adding that "while each fight [at the school] has its own story, they all stem from the same problem: And that is the culture at our school." 

Morales also said, "Sure, at first there will be resistance, but in the long term there will be leaders within the class that will emerge and set the standard we so desperately need," according to the newspaper. 

Morales told the outlet that he felt the actual speech was constructive criticism and that he "just wanted to start a conversation." 



Kenny Morales told The Grand Island Independent he used AI to draft a decoy version of his graduation speech. (Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images / Getty Images)

The student said he knew the speech he wanted to deliver wouldn’t be approved by the district, so he used ChatGPT to draft a decoy version and wrote his actual speech in about a half hour the day before the ceremony, the newspaper reported. 

In a statement, Grand Island Public Schools Board of Education President Hank McFarland said, "I disagree with how this came about." 

OpenAI and ChatGPT logos

A Grand Island Public Schools district official said he disapproved with how Morales' speech unfolded. (Reuters/Dado Ruvic/Illustration / Reuters Photos)


"Seniors are required to submit their speeches, and they should be giving the speeches as submitted. I'm a big believer in... saying what you're going to do and then doing what you said you would do," McFarland said, according to The Grand Island Independent. "That being said, however, Kenny made a couple of valid points." 

"I believe strongly that if you have faults, you need to first admit to those faults, and then develop a plan to fix them. Do we need work on discipline in schools? Yes. Do we need to have high expectations of performance in the classroom? Yes. Do we need to make sure our students are doing a good job of attending class? Yes," McFarland continued. "These are all things that we have already been discussing in the administration. And I can assure you that we will be making adjustments. Short story made long — does the student have valid concerns? Yes. Was the way he did it correct? No."