Oklahoma Valedictorian Denied Diploma After Using ‘Hell’ in Her Speech
By ANNIE RAMOS
Aug. 20, 2012
The father of a recent high-school graduate who has been denied a diploma because she said “hell” in her valedictorian speech accused her Oklahoma principal of bullying his daughter.
“She became a senior and he constantly picked on her,” Kaitlin Nootbaar’s father, David, said of Prague High School principal David Smith. “I thought bullying wasn’t supposed to be allowed in school.”
Neither Smith nor superintendent Rick Martin responded to messages asking them to comment, although Martin told KFOR-TV in a statement that, “This matter is confidential and we cannot publicly say anything about it.”
In her speech, Kaitlin, 18, told her Prague, Okla., audience about how she has changed her mind numerous times about potential career choices, her father said.
He said Kaitlin spoke of how she once wanted to be a nurse when she was younger, but then wanted to become a vet. She summarized her dilemma, her father said, with, “How the hell do I know? I’ve changed my mind so many times.”
The teen told her parents she drew inspiration for her speech from the movies: “Eclipse,” which is the third installment of “The Twilight Saga” film series, and “The Hunger Games.”
“Eclipse” includes a graduation scene in which the speaker says, “who the hell knows.”
Kaitlin’s speech was met with laughter and applause, her father said. The class valedictorian walked the stage and graduated along with the rest of her class.
Her transcripts were sent on to Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford and life went on as usual until she and her father went to collect her diploma from the high school office last week.
“The principle shut the door on us,” David Nootbaar said, “and told us she [Kaitlin] will type apology letters to him, the school board, the superintendent and all of the teachers,” in order for her to obtain her diploma.
Kaitlin has told her parents she does not intend to write the apology letters but, her father said, still believes she is entitled to the diploma.
The straight-A student who has “never received a B in her life,” her father said, is now enjoying her first days at college at Southwestern Oklahoma State.
She has decided to major in biology, her dad said, to become a marine biologist. For now.
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