Valedictorian denied diploma for saying 'hell'

Oklahoma high school wants apology, student refuses

Published On: Aug 21 2012 08:10:52 AM PDT   Updated On: Aug 27 2012 08:20:15 AM PDT
Kaitlin Nootbaar

She graduated at the top of her class, but a valedictorian in central Oklahoma still doesn't have her high school diploma.

Prague High School is withholding Kaitlin Nootbaar's diploma until she apologizes for saying the word "hell" in her commencement speech, The Associated Press reported.

During her speech in May, Nootbaar said she had wanted to be a nurse, then a veterinarian, but when people ask what she wants to be now, she said "How the hell should I know? I've changed my mind so many times."

In the written version of her speech submitted to school officials, Nootbaar used the work "heck" but said "hell" in the moment instead, The Oklahoman reported.

The Prague High School superintendent told the AP in a statement Monday that Nootbaar "used language that was inappropriate for a graduation exercise."

The teen and her family disagree and have refused to apologize.

The school district did turn over Nootbaar's transcript so she could start classes Monday at Southwestern Oklahoma State University. She's there on a full scholarship, her father said, and is majoring in biology with plans to become a marine biologist.