In the high school video, Miller displays a precocious ability to go against the current and provoke controversy.
The video contains fragments of a brief 90 second speech by Miller during his junior year at Santa Monica High School in California in the spring of 2002, including a controversial reference to the job of janitors.
It was made for an audio-visual production class by four of Miller's school mates. At the time of the speech, Miller was running for a student government post and was such a polemic figure he was chosen as the protagonist for the video.
"Hi, I’m Stephen Miller, some of you may or may not know who I am," Miller says, smiling. “We’re not talking about that right now. I’m the only candidate up here who stands out. I would say and I would do things that no one else in their right mind would say or do. Am I the only one who is sick and tired of being told to pick up our trash when we have plenty of janitors who are paid to do it for us?”
Miller was cut off almost immediately. In the stands, some offended students got up from their seats and were set to take the stage to face Miller, according to Natalie Flores, who was in the audience. In the video, the president of the student assembly, Coleen Yamamura-Clark, is seen jostling with Miller to get him to leave the podium. Counselor Don Hedrick and student vice president Justin Siplin escorted him off stage.
The Samohi student newspaper reported that, according to the organizers, the reason for silencing Miller was that he had exceeded his allotted 90 seconds. But other speakers had gone over their time without being cut off, according to students who also made speeches the same day. The newspaper reported that speeches had been pre-approved by Hedrick. But students who recalled that day told Univision they would have been surprised if Miller's outburst had received a green light and suspect he may have improvised.
Justin Brownstone, the student president at that time, said he had heard that remark about the janitors before. "He enjoyed saying things that were perceived as racist. The more he offended, the happier he was," Brownstone recalled.