SPOKANE, Wash. - "(Expletive) this establishment."
Those were the final words of a speech Lewis and
Clark High School senior Nick Cashaw gave during a school assembly this week. Cashaw said the speech was to encourage free-thinking, marching to the beat of one's own drum, and revolting
against social norms but school leaders were less than pleased. For using the "F-bomb",
Cashaw was immediately suspended from
school and not allowed to walk at the
Lewis and Clark graduation ceremony.
FOX FIRST AT TEN spoke exclusively with Cashaw on Friday.
"There were just things that I've been thinking about that I felt like my
fellow peers needed to know about," Cashaw told FOX FIRST AT TEN on Friday. "I would say my main message is to
not let individuals or the society as a
whole, control you, or dictate what you need to do with your life."
"Pursue your dreams and don't let people tell you what your
dreams need to be," he said.
As it turns out, Cashaw was already used to the limelight. The
aspiring songwriter and rapper, from Spokane, has been building a fan base on
the local hip-hop scene for months. His music was the reason he was center stage
at LC's assembly on Wednesday. He was asked to perform in a ceremony to honor
seniors, called Move-Up Con, on the seniors' last day of school. Cashaw was not
scheduled to give a speech but after his song, Cashaw said, he saw an
opportunity to speak his mind and seized it.
At the podium, a teacher approached him and asked if what he was
about to say was appropriate. Cashaw said "yes." Little did they realize, Nick
was about to drop a bomb on the audience.
"I am here to encourage you to live," Cashaw said toward the end
of the speech. "Realize that this system we are all apart of is not the way
things must be and you are free to do what you please, for this is your
universe. The only entity powerful enough to inhibit you from being what you
want to be is yourself and never let anyone tell you differently. Lastly, If I
had one thing to say to my fellow seniors and the school as a whole it would be
go find who you are and what you are meant to accomplish, and never let anyone
tell you how to do that. The devils are here, but there is a greater force
within all of you and it is your fate, as a being of consciousness, to go seek
it out for yourself. Take that to heart."
Then Cashaw capped off his speech with three final words:
"(Expletive) this establishment."
He's convinced his speech would not have been the same without
the F-word. "it's the power of the word," he said. "I feel like my message would
not have been delivered or viewed by as many people if the word wasn't
The auditorium of students immediately burst in applause and
cheers. Based on the reaction, it seemed Cashaw's parting words launched him
into hero status. But in reality, the reviews are mixed.
Lewis and Clark senior Monique Wallace said, "At first I was
kind of shocked that he said that to begin with but, at the same time, after I
realized what just happened, it was kind of a 'I sort of agree with that' kind
On Facebook, Adelle Hurley wrote, "I say good for the school!
They can mail him his diploma if he did indeed pass! I don't care if you hate
the establishment or not. That is no way to represent yourself or your peers,
especially being released into the world as an adult. Grow up!!!! I think it was
all for attention!!!"
Tracy Rice wrote, "I'm sorry, but as a senior he had to know
what the consequences would be if he used the language."
Deena Mathews wrote, "Sometimes you have to do something
shocking to wake people up. I think this was his way of expressing
The district whole-heartedly disagreed. They suspended Cashaw
and are not allowing him to walk during his graduation ceremony.
Lewis & Clark Assistant Principal Dan Close said, "The issue
we had was that it's not against the message of his speech but certainly the
venue and the method and the audience that he chose to use them. Had he not chose to use the profanity, there wouldn't have been an
"I feel like the message was far more important than
me walking at graduation," Cashaw
Like his music, Cashaw wanted his audience to seek a deeper
meaning in his speech. Now, he's confident, his words were in fact music to
"I've had enough people approach me that said 'They really took
my message to heart.'"
When FOX FIRST AT TEN asked Cashaw how his parents would feel about the
speech, he said he lives on his own and his no contact with his parents. He also
wanted to clarify that his anti-establishment statement was not directed at
Lewis and Clark High School but rather "the world we're born into."
Cashaw said he plans to go to college at either Seattle
Community College or Eastern Washington University with plans to pursue his
Lewis and Clark Principal, Mr.. Jordan, sent FOX FIRST AT TEN this
"This is not about the message in the speech. Advocating for
such things as finding out who you are, not living a superficial life, thinking
outside the box, and never letting anyone limit what you can do are good
messages. It is about three words in the final statement which included a word
that is totally inappropriate in a public setting.
It was disheartening, disappointing, and it embarrassed staff
who have been his advocate and provided him support over the years.
It is a privilege to hold the microphone and perform in front of
a school's student body and staff. with that privilege comes
Since this was not on the agenda, the student was asked by a
staff member if this was appropriate. The student said 'yes.' Use of the
profanity in this setting is not appropriate. Had the student not used that word
we wouldn't be having this conversation.
We have high expectations for student behavior. We are all about
developing students and assisting them when they make mistakes.
When students make poor decisions at LC, whether using
profanity, speaking in derogatory terms about others, or lying to their
teachers, we give them the opportunity to express remorse for behavior,
apologize to the victims, and agree to change behavior. If a student chooses not
to repair the damage, there are consequences for him or her because the damage
festers for the teachers who give their hearts and souls to help students, for
the younger students who look up to older students, and for the parents who
attend an event expecting a positive atmosphere.
Participating in athletic events, drama productions, attending
dances, and participating in school ceremonies such as graduation is a
privilege. Loss of these privileges is a natural consequence for inappropriate
NICK CASHAW'S SPEECH::
Cashaw's speech can be seen on YouTube:: Http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vP8QUMTkV_w&feature=youtube_gdata_player
"The world is cold. Hell is empty and all the devils are here.
They reside before us, not the devils of the biblical sense but rather the
devils of humanity itself. The suppressors of the conscious, the killers of the
spirit, the obstacles to cool. There is an imminent doom that stares us in the
face, a blackness that descends upon this civilization. We are shown what we are
to focus on, instructed on how we are to act, and told what we are to think but
I have yet to see that you understand.
I had a vision. A vision that has been perceived by countless
great minds throughout the history of humanity and that I am sure has come to
influence many of you before me today in some form. The vision was simple but
profound in it's being, inexplicably deep in it's complexity and made a mark on
my existence that will stay with me until the day I die. I had a vision that
this entity, this beast we call life is indefinitely bigger then we make it out
I came to the realization that there are greater forces, both
within and around us, that we will never even begin to comprehend. And although
I feel their influence, the divine intertwined, I may never come to terms with
their existence, as much as I seek meaning, wishing to come to terms with mine.
But you see this led me to another thought. As I examined the world around me
and began to question what I was seeing I came to a second realization that we
live disconnected. Disconnected from each other, disconnected from a truth we
all fear and most importantly disconnected from ourselves. We are so wrapped up
in things we have been taught to attribute superficial value to that we are
missing out what is of true importance. Your eyes are open but you do not see.
Many among you will die without ever grasping the true essence
of our purpose in life and for this I am frightened. Many among you will die
chasing green slips of paper. Many of you will die alone constantly the seeking
the comforting approval of others while others of you will die while your name
and your gift to the world die along with you. Your eyes are open but you do not
see. Many of you will die disconnected from a beautiful paradise that lies
within your conscious if merely you wish to explore it while other of you will
die lost, chasing something that you chased simply because you were told to do
I am here to encourage you to live. Realize that this system we
are all apart of is not the way things must be and you are free to do what you
please, for this is your universe. The only entity powerful enough to inhibit
you from being what you want to be is yourself and never let anyone tell you
differently. Lastly, If I had one thing to say to my fellow seniors and the
school as a whole it would be go find who you are and what you are meant to
accomplish, and never let anyone tell you how to do that. The devils are here,
but there is a greater force within all of you and it is your fate, as a being
of consciousness, to go seek it out for yourself. Take that to heart and
finally, (expletive) this establishment. Thank you."
Chelsea Kopta filed this report.
Follow her at FOX FIRST AT TENChelsea Kopta on Twitter and Facebook.