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West Virginia principal gets five-day suspension for plagiarizing Ashton Kutcher’s 2013 Teen Choice Award speech

2019-06-12

In this May 23 photo, Principal Kenny DeMoss gives closing remarks during Parkersburg High School's 2019 graduation ceremony, in Parkersburg, W.Va. The West Virginia principal accused of plagiarizing Ashton Kutcher in the address to his school's graduating class says he didn't mean to use someone else's work. DeMoss has issued a statement saying he should have cited his sources in the speech, but asserted the ideas were his own. (Michael Erb/AP)

A West Virginia principal was suspended without pay for five days after students accused him of plagiarizing Ashton Kutcher during an address to graduating seniors last month.

Parkersburg High School Principal Kenny DeMoss apologized for his May remarks on Tuesday before the Wood County Board of Education, which voted 4-1 for his suspension, the News and Sentinel reported.

The decision comes in wake of a Facebook video shared by graduate Abby Smith, which features her principal’s graduation remarks spliced together with a speech Kutcher previously delivered at the Teen Choice Awards. She and her classmates noticed glaring similarities between the pair of addresses and created the now-viral clip to highlight DeMoss’ plagiarism.

FILE - In this April 15, 2018, file photo, Ashton Kutcher arrives at the 53rd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The News and Sentinel reports Parkersburg High School Principal Kenny DeMoss was suspended Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at a Wood County Board of Education meeting. DeMoss apologized for heavily basing his May address on Kutcher's 2013 Nickelodeon Teen Choice Awards speech.
FILE - In this April 15, 2018, file photo, Ashton Kutcher arrives at the 53rd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The News and Sentinel reports Parkersburg High School Principal Kenny DeMoss was suspended Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at a Wood County Board of Education meeting. DeMoss apologized for heavily basing his May address on Kutcher's 2013 Nickelodeon Teen Choice Awards speech. (Jordan Strauss/Invision)

Kutcher delivered his remarks after collecting the “Ultimate Achievement Award” in 2013, telling an audience of screaming adolescents that his success is comprised of three things: “The first thing is opportunity,” he said. “The second thing Is about being sexy, and the third is about living life.”

Echoing the “That 70s Show” star, DeMoss shared similar facets of success for the graduating class.

“The first thing is about opportunity, the second thing is about being intriguing, and the third is about living life,” he proclaimed.

Both speeches continue similarly, with each also referencing very similar jobs from their childhoods. Kutcher in his remarks recalled working with his father at a construction site, where he carried shingles up and down the ladder. DeMoss did the same.

Plagiarized Grad Speech

Here is my principal, plagiarizing his entire graduation speech.

Posted by Abby Smith on Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Smith’s video of both speeches has since been viewed by more than 160,000 people – including the “Dude Where’s my Car” actor himself.

“‘Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.’ – Oscar Wilde. *cite your sources kids and faculty,” Kutcher wrote in a cheeky tweet on Saturday.

DeMoss, who did not cite Kutcher when he gave his speech, defended his remarks amid public backlash. On Tuesday though, he did not try to avoid the blame in his apology before the school board.

“My intent in speaking tonight is to say I’m sorry. I am a proud graduate of PHS, have coached for 25 years and have been an administrator for seven years in this community. I would never purposefully bring shame to myself, my family, my school, our school system, or our community,” he said.

“I made a mistake. I have brought a negative focus upon us and I deeply apologize. I hope that those disappointed in me will forgive me. Through this, I have learned a valuable lesson and it is on me to earn your respect moving forward.”