Don’t Withhold Diploma From High School Valedictorian Who Used Swear Word in Graduation Speech

Target: Prague Public School Superintendent, Rick Martin

Goal: Allow valedictorian who used profanity in her graduation speech to receive her diploma alongside her classmates

At a recent high school graduation in Oklahoma, the school valedictorian was refused her diploma. Like every high school, the valedictorian was asked to give a speech at graduation. While it is important to give an eloquent and inspiring speech, it is also necessary for the valedictorian to connect with his or her peers in order to keep the speech interesting. Kaitlin Nootbaar of Prague High School did so by quoting Twilight, a popular movie of her generation. While talking about how she often changed her mind about what she wanted to do in the future, she stated, “How the hell do I know? I’ve changed my mind so many times.” This quote not only made Nootbaar’s peers cheer, but it also made administrators extremely angry.

Administrators at Prague High School were so appalled by Kaitlin’s use of the word “hell” that they refused to give her a diploma until they received a written apology. Not only is this an excessive response, but it is extremely unfair to withhold a degree from their best academic student in the school. Clearly, she did not have academic or disciplinary problems throughout high school, which is why she became valedictorian. One word that is hardly even a swear word should not hold this intelligent girl back from receiving a diploma. Demand that the overreacting officials at Prague High School give Kaitlin Nootbaar her diploma without her providing a written apology.


Dear Rick Martin,

It was completely unnecessary for Kaitlin Nootbaar to be refused her diploma. While a valedictorian’s speech should be intelligent and interesting, it must also relate to the student’s peers in order to keep their attention. In order to do so, valedictorians often draw from media and pop culture for their speeches. This is exactly what Kaitlin Nootbaar did in her graduation speech. While talking about her choices for a future career, she said “How the hell do I know? I’ve changed my mind so many times” which is a quote from one of the Twilight movies. While her peers applauded the quote, apparently administration found it offensive enough to withhold Nootbaar’s diploma.

Not only is this action extremely unnecessary, but withholding a diploma from the school’s most academically successful student sends a bad message to other students. Many students look up to their valedictorian, and for that student to not receive a diploma sets a bad example for others. It would be understandable if Kaitlin was provided with a list of unacceptable words and “hell” was one of them, but this was not the case. Most people do not even consider “hell” to be a bad word. If people say it on the news, television, and the radio, it obviously cannot be that bad of a word. The school completely overreacted in this situation and it is necessary to give Kaitlin Nootbaar her diploma without requiring her to write a formal apology to the school. She has nothing to apologize for and deserves her diploma just as much, if not more, than any other student at Plague High School.


[Your Name Here]

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One Comment

  1. Steve Cripe RN Steve & Sue Cripe says:

    In this particular context, the use of the word in the midst of the factual quotations, was completely appropriate.

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