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Liberty High valedictorian's speech causes stir

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Roy Costner speaks with FOX Carolina's Diana Watson. (June 6, 2013/FOX Carolina) Roy Costner speaks with FOX Carolina's Diana Watson. (June 6, 2013/FOX Carolina)
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LIBERTY, SC (FOX Carolina) -

An Upstate high school valedictorian tore up his graduation speech and prayed instead.

Valedictorian Roy Costner spoke at his Liberty High School graduation as people in the crowd cheered when he threw away his pre-approved speech, reciting the Lord's Prayer instead.

Costner's impromptu speech was posted on YouTube, but that's not what the district said he turned in for approval.

The representative for the School District of Pickens County said Costner did recite some of his planned speech that was approved, but the original did not include religious comments.

Prayer in Pickens County has been highly debated this spring after the school board adopted a new policy that allows non-student led, non-sectarian prayer at meetings.

Following the board's decision, Costner said he spoke to his pastor and prayed before deciding his speech was the time to make a statement.

"It was an emotional moment," Costner told FOX Carolina on Tuesday. "It was overwhelming to look out and see the crowd and yelling."

FOX Carolina spoke with Costner again on Thursday about how much attention the video and his speech had received. He said his motivation to pray during his speech was to take a stand for what he believes in. Watch the raw interview here.

So far the speech has more than 539,000 views online.

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