Kaitlin Nootbaar, a straight-A student with a 4.0 GPA, was named the valedictorian of her graduating class in Prague, Oklahoma three months ago.
In a commencement speech to her fellow seniors, Nootbaar accidentally used the word "hell" instead of the pre-approved "heck," according to her father.
"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,'" David Nootbaar told KFOR-TV in Oklahoma.
The line, he said, was inspired by a part in the movie Twilight Saga: Eclipse.
School administrators said nothing at the time and audience members responded warmly to the speech with laughter and applause.
But when Kaitlin and her parents went to pick up her diploma this week, she was scolded by her former principal and told that she would not receive anything unless a formal letter of apology was written to Prague High School, whose sports teams are called the Red Devils. Many columnists have been quick to point out the irony.
"We went to the office and asked for the diploma and the principal said, 'Your diploma is right here but you're not getting it. Close the door; we have a problem,'" said David.
The school's superintendent told reporters in Oklahoma that the matter is confidential. Prague Public Schools' website is currently being redirected to Google.com.
Kaitlin Nootbaar has refused to apologize, despite the fact that she starts college on a full scholarship in just a few days.
A statement she sent to KFOR-TV Monday afternoon reads:
Plenty are showing support for Nootbaar online with public petitions, Facebook Groups, and the Twitter hashtag #FreeKatilinsDiploma."First off, I would like to thank everyone who is backing me on this, especially my friends and family. And to those who don't agree with me, that is fine also. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and is free to comment however they choose. It's one of the great advantages of living in a free country. A country where we are free to speak. I would also like to note that I do not hate Prague. I have loved that town since I was a child. I don't hate the school either, the teachers have always been great! I don't feel that the whole town should suffer from the mistakes of few. Again, thank s:)"
What's your take? If you were in the same situation, would you apologize to get the diploma or stick to your beliefs like Katilin Nootbaar? Let us know in the comment section below.
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