Valedictorian Kaitlin Nootbaar worked hard for four years to be the top student at Prague High School, but now she is in a fight with her school to even get a diploma for a word she uttered in a split second.
In her speech at graduation, Nootbaar used the word “hell,” angering school officials and causing them to withhold the valedictorian’s diploma, KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City reported.
As Nootbaar was writing her speech, she wanted to come up with a catchy way to highlight the fact that she was unsure of what she wanted to do in the future. So, to emphasize her point, she used the only-borderline swear word. Her father, David Nootbaar, recalls helping his daughter with her valedictorian speech:
“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 h*** do I know? I’ve changed my mind so many times.’ “
The script Kaitlin Nootbaar submitted to her school had the word “heck,” but she said, in the heat of the moment during the speech, she decided to change it. The audience laughed and the speech finished without incident.
But then when she went to pick up her certificate, the school’s principal told Kaitlin that she would not get it until she wrote an apology for her remark.
David Nootbaar thinks that what the school is doing is illegal and that it’s absurd for the school to withhold the diploma, especially for the valedictorian.
“She has worked so hard to stay at the top of her class and this is not right,” he said.
Though controversial in its decision, Prague High School is not alone in denying diplomas for shaky reasons, The Huffington Post reported. A similar incident took place in June when a graduating senior in Ohio was denied a diploma when his family and friends cheered too loudly for him at the graduation ceremony.
Valedictorian Kaitlin Nootbaar said she won’t be writing a letter of apology because she believes she did nothing wrong.