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Op-Ed: My Speech Was Also Cut from Holy Cross Graduation

On Friday, May 25, two students at Holy Cross High School in Covington were not permitted to deliver their commencement speeches after the Diocese of Covington objected to their content and suggested that the speeches were also turned in for review late. Class valedictorian Christian Bales and salutatorian and student council president Katherine Frantz delivered their speeches after the ceremony, outside the Connor Convocation Center at Thomas More College in Crestview Hills. To read the original story, click here. Since then, Katherine Frantz wrote this op-ed and submitted it to RCN for publication, along with the entirety of her speech.

I am Katherine Frantz, and I was the student council president and salutatorian for Holy Cross High School’s graduating class of 2018.

I was informed that my pre-approved speech was not acceptable to the diocese, and that I would not be able to present my speech to my class at the graduation ceremony. According to the Diocese of Covington, my speech, along with that of Christian Bales, the valedictorian, was political and went against the teachings of the Catholic Church.

At first, I was confused. I had no idea how my speech was in any way controversial or did not reflect what I had been taught the last 13 years that I have attended Catholic schools in the Diocese of Covington. I have been taught that the Catholic Church is loving and is for all people. To have my faith and my beliefs put into question by the diocese was extremely insulting.

As suggested by my teachers when I was writing the speech, I highlighted individuals in my graduating class to give examples of how we have grown these past four years. Our class helped create such an amazing and accepting environment at Holy Cross High School. I wanted to encourage my friends to take their experiences from high school and carry the energy and confidence, which we have acquired and encouraged in each other, into new situations, schools, and jobs.

Christian and I have worked for four years to earn the right to speak as valedictorian and student council president at graduation. I was shocked and upset when that honor was taken away from us on the morning of graduation. My speech is about trust in God, hope, and confidence in the future. Those are the lessons that the staff and faculty of Holy Cross gifted me with.

It is still unclear to me why the diocese rejected my speech with no opportunity for revision and showed no consideration for taking my speech away from me, my family, and my classmates.

The support I received from the faculty, staff, and fellow students at Holy Cross has been wonderful. I will always be grateful for my four years at Holy Cross High School.

The speech, in its entirety, unedited by RCN with other students' names now abbreviated:

Good evening Bishop Foys, distinguished guests, faculty, family, friends, and the class of 2018. I am Katherine Frantz, and I am speaking in front of you tonight as your student council president. It has been an amazing honor to lead you this year, class of 2018, as crazy, independent, close, and fantastic as you are. Leading the school this year has definitely been a challenge but it’s something I knew I’ve wanted to do since I walked into school as a freshman.

Four years. Four LONG years. Four years full of growing. Let’s be honest, we grew up here. Try to deny it all you want but each and every one of you has changed so much. The class I am looking at right now is full of such amazing individuality and diversity. Class of 2018 that’s one thing I love about you, that you are not afraid to be yourself, that you don’t conform, or exclude others.

Think back to freshman year. We were so different. K hadn’t become a giraffe yet and B was just the kid that hacked computers and calculators. I and W were just those short, funny kids. And M was that red headed girl who played volleyball. The way we knew each other then was superficial. But think of how we know each other now, and how much we have grown. K has been my trusty vice president this year and has been such a great leader and friend. B has basically every talent in the world now and can play guitar, draw, paint, take photos, and make movies good enough to win the NKU film contest. S and W, they are so funny. S turned into such an outspoken, hilarious asset to our class. And man, W is headed to the ivy leagues…. Congrats to that crazy kid who wears a cutout of Mount Rushmore on his head all day. M has changed so much too. M has turned into this beautiful leader who is so passionate about her beliefs. She has convinced our class to look at things and issues in different lights and to speak up for what we believe in.

There are so many more of you who have grown into amazing people, B who was terrified to get in front of all those thousands of people at KUNA freshman year is now going to get in front of thousands and act his heart out. H who was a goofy freshman was voted best personality and works everyday (regardless if she sees it as work) to make those around her smile and feel a little bit happier about life. Class of 2018 you are so beautiful. Each and every one of you is unique. Never let that go.

But obviously, not every day in these past four years has been easy. I mean I cried basically twice a week, we all know it was sometimes terrible. But we have overcome our challenges. Class of 2018 we are so lucky because we were the last class to have Mr. E teach us. Something he taught us was that each one of us has amazing potential. My freshman year in his class I was so shy and worried about everything. Now look at me. I’m still worried about everything but I have confidence, enough to stand in front of you now. As a group we have overcome a lot as well. Being yourself is hard. The things we’ve learned and discussions we’ve had at Holy Cross have urged us to think, to think about what we believe and how we want to live our lives. Think about all the discussion days in Mrs. M’s class, or constant wisdom and different perspectives from Mr. B. Think about all the topics we have debated at KYA and KUNA or the strangers who became friends from across the country and the world when we traveled to Boston and San Francisco. I think, as a group we have overcome a huge fear, and that is a fear of being genuine. I’m proud of all of us for that. And we wouldn’t have had these opportunities without the support of our families: financially and spiritually, or support from our teachers who were examples of living with God’s love and guided our growth.

But now, our growing at Holy Cross has come to an end. We have reached graduation and will soon move on to new things and bigger schools. We still have so much potential. We’re becoming freshman again. We’ve worked for these past four years not just on our GPA but on ourselves. Now, we can’t move backwards. As you move on to college or wherever you are going after this, I think some people are going to Applebee’s or something if y’all want to tag along…, no but continue being yourself, continue being a leader, continue being a kind and a good person, continue changing lives, laughing, expressing your beliefs, dancing, singing and creating. Continue. Obviously, that is all easier said than done, but while we’re making big changes in our lives we always have God to turn to. At Holy Cross we have been building our faith. Use faith when times get hard and take comfort in knowing that God has our backs.

We have so much life ahead of us, so make differences and make changes. And don’t forget to be you. Steve Jobs says it beautifully, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma-which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.” Class of 2018, the future holds so much hope. I can’t wait to see what you all do with it. Thank you.

Written by Katherine Frantz
Photo: Katherine Franz at the Holy Cross graduation ceremony on Friday (provided)