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Valedictorian refused diploma for "swearing" in speech

An Oklahoma valedictorian is in hot water for using a swear word in her high school graduation speech.

Kaitlin Nootbaar graduated in May with a 4.0 grade point average from Prague High School, about 60 miles east of Oklahoma City. During her speech, she deviated from her pre-approved script by two letters, according to her father.

"Her quote was, ‘When she first started school she wanted to be a nurse, then a veterinarian and now that she was getting closer to graduation, people would ask her, what do you want to do and she said how the hell do I know? I've changed my mind so many times,'" David Nootbaar told local channel KFOR.

He said Kaitlin took inspiration from the movie "Eclipse: The Twilight Saga," during which a character uses a similar phrase during a graduation scene.

Kaitlin had written "heck" in the draft she submitted to school officials for approval.

The audience laughed, according to Nootbaar, and she finished her speech to warm applause. But when she went to pick up her diploma, the principal reportedly told he she could not have it until she issued a written letter of apology, which Kaitlin has declined to do.

"She said 'Dad, if I write them a letter it's not going to be a nice letter. It's not going to be an apology,' " Nootbaar told NBC New York.

She said, 'Dad, if I write them a letter it's not going to be a nice letter. It's not going to be an apology.'
–David Nootbaar

Superintendent Rick Martin called Kaitlin an outstanding student, but said she had acted inappropriately.

"Unfortunately, she did not present the speech as written and used language that was inappropriate for a graduation exercise," Martin said Monday in a statement.

Martin said he has not been contacted by the family, but Nootbaar said he has tried to contact the superintendent, to no avail.

Kaitlin Nootbaar plans to attend Southwestern Oklahoma State University on a full scholarship this fall and will major in biology, according to her father. The university had previously accepted her transcript as proof of graduation.


Your thoughts?


Asked by LostSoul88 at 12:24 PM on Aug. 21, 2012 in Politics & Current Events

Level 40 (119,496 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (23)
  • I think they're getting a bit bent out of shape over a little slip. This is obviously an upstanding young student or she wouldn't be their valedictorian. If I was her parent, I would support her not wanting to play their little game to get the diploma she so rightfully earned. They're just withholding a piece of paper, not her accomplishments. People need to lighten up a little.


    Answer by mrsmom110 at 12:28 PM on Aug. 21, 2012

  • One school makes mandatory reading of a book with the word FUCK in it, and another school punishes a graduating student for using the word hell. COMMON SENSE PEOPLE

    Answer by meooma at 12:50 PM on Aug. 21, 2012

  • Anal retentive idiots.


    Answer by Farrahann at 12:29 PM on Aug. 21, 2012

  • I wouldn't have apologized either, nor would I make her if she were my daughter. It wasn't a word worthy of all the attention this has been given. They should give her, her diploma which she earned.

    Answer by kmath at 12:33 PM on Aug. 21, 2012

  • can't tell me the principal has a clean mouth 24/7. no one does.

    Answer by dullscissors at 12:34 PM on Aug. 21, 2012

  • first, since when is hell a curse word? i had teachers 10 years ago who said worse things than that everyday.

    second, her speech originally used the word "heck" isnt it REALLY possible that she, nerves all over the place, said the much easier and probably natural (for her) word. yes, she broke the rule, but i dont think she did it on purpose in order to prove some kinda point...i bet you most ppl in the audience didnt think anything of it. schools are way too power hungry..."were gonna teach that no good Valedictorian a lesson she wont soon forget!!"

    Answer by okmanders at 12:45 PM on Aug. 21, 2012

  • They need to give her the damn diploma. It's ridiculous. That young lady worked her butt off for it and deserves it.

    Answer by texasgurl33 at 12:33 PM on Aug. 21, 2012

  • If she knowingly violated a rule of the school's, then they have a right to enforce a penalty. If there was no such rule in place, she can probably win a suit over this. The downside to that is that it could cost her more than would her college education. It sounds like perhaps she knew because she did have to turn in a written copy of her address. That sounds like there was a standard which she knowingly agreed to meet. There is probably more to this story than we know, and it will likely be decided in the courts.

    Answer by NannyB. at 12:37 PM on Aug. 21, 2012

  • I have heard TEACHERS in public school use much worse words than hell while instructing the class. 


    Answer by amazinggrace83 at 12:38 PM on Aug. 21, 2012

  • Oh for goodness sake!

    Answer by Book.Girl at 2:04 PM on Aug. 21, 2012