Valedictorian Denied Diploma for Saying 'Hell' in Speech

Kaitlin Nootbaar was inspired by ... 'Twilight'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 20, 2012 11:49 AM CDT

(Newser) – Kaitlin Nootbaar graduated as valedictorian with a 4.0 GPA and is headed to college on a full scholarship … yet her Oklahoma school won't release her diploma because she used the word "hell" in her graduation speech. Dad David Nootbaar says Kaitlin was inspired by a Twilight movie while writing her speech (an idea that may actually be more offensive to some than her use of the H-word). Says her dad: "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.'"

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When she initially presented a copy of her speech to the school, she had written "heck," but she uttered the word "hell" in the moment. The line got a laugh from the audience, and Kaitlin didn't realize anything was wrong until she went to pick up her diploma. The principal told her the certificate wouldn't be released until she wrote an apology letter—which she doesn't plan on doing, her dad says, adding that her family is behind her. "She earned that diploma," he tells KFOR 4. "She completed all the state curriculum." (Read more Kaitlin Nootbaar stories.)

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