August 21st, 2012
01:00 PM ET

School to valedictorian: No apology for speech, no diploma

Kaitlin Nootbaar, the valedictorian at Oklahoma's Prague High School, joked during her graduation speech that she'd so often changed her mind about what she wanted to be, she now answers, "How the hell do I know? I've changed my mind so many times." Her quote mirrored a scene in a "Twilight" movie and the audience applauded. Kaitlin is about to start college on a full scholarship.

But when she went to pick up her diploma, the school principal said he wouldn't release it until she wrote an apology letter - administrators were upset by her speech, CNN affiliate KFOR reported.

CNN's Anderson Cooper weighed in, too, on The Ridiculist: "If this is our future, then nobody's getting diplomas because we're all going to hell in a handbasket."

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Filed under: Graduation • Issues
soundoff (121 Responses)
  1. Ann

    I think she should write the following apology:

    Dear School,

    I am so f-ing sorry that I f-ed up my graduation speech. I felt like sh-t. I don't blame you at all for being P O'd at me. Now, can I have my G D diploma?

    August 27, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
  2. NODAT1

    Would expect anything different from this part of the country?

    August 27, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • Concerned Parent

      What "part of the country" are you referring to? The midwest? Have you ever been there? Do you really know ANYTHING at all about their community? I didn't think so...

      August 27, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
  3. MEW

    When did I awake in Russia? I may not like the word hell but I defend the young ladies right to use it and in civilized society HELL is no more a curse than HEAVEN. The girl earned the damn diploma and no matter what those narrow minded administrators or the narrow minded people blogging think the school has no right to withhold it. How can we ever teach kids that they have minds and rights if we overreact like these fools. She graduated and is headed towards college, if I were her parents I would urge her not to apologize to fols.

    August 26, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • Concerned Parent

      I agree!

      August 27, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  4. Sarah Quinn

    Considering the school mascot/team name is the Devils, I think she had no worries. You can't align an entire school with the devil and condemn one girl for using the name of the place he lives.

    Those administrators need to find a real problem to address (like drugs, dropouts, and social justice).

    August 26, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
  5. norgan sheridan

    The school system there should just come out in favor of chemically straight-jacked, drugged on Prozac, compliant Stepford kids.

    August 25, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • A. Lawless

      Explain how decent public language is stepford behavior.

      This year she opens the door for hell, the next brat will have to say much worse to trump her "self expression" and grab the spotlight for being that years best mind. Where does it end?

      The world does not need more just lke her to advance society into the pit it's become. You can't go see a movie without being mowed down by a youth who also has not learned a proper way to express themselves, and also incapable of deciding what to do.

      Those dumb and dumber movies clearly captured something about modern America shown by the support here for ignorance as a virtue.

      August 26, 2012 at 1:01 pm |

        She earned her degree like it or not this is a free country and it is not like she cussed the administration. These re young adlts. She earned that damn degree and the adminstration can go to hell

        August 26, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
      • Rational

        On what planet is the name of a fictional place an obscenity? Would I be right if I guess: "On the same planet where people take fairy tales as literal truth?"

        August 27, 2012 at 4:29 am |
    • T

      I think that although the schools reaction seems extreme to some, if guidelines were given and she went outside those boundaries, an apology is a small concession for her to let it all go away. Free speech is not the intention of a valedictorian speech. The purpose is to inspire and have an opportunity to be recognized for her accomplishments. The school has the right to set guidelines for those participating in their graduation. It's for everyone, not just the valedictorian. If an employer sets boundaries for employees behavior, and those aren't followed, employers are within their rights to discipline. Why is this any different? They're not asking for her to be prosecuted. They're not suing. They're standing their ground on their policy, which apples to everyone. If valedictorians cannot be expected to adhere to the school's expectations of dignified behavior (even if some don't agree with the limits) that may force the school to not allow valedictorian speeches. If I was her parent, I'd ask her to simply apologize for the statement, and suggest that she include the explanation that it was a movie reference, and not intended to offend, but rather it was an attempt to make her speech relevant to the audience. Sometimes people make things harder than they need to be, and make their own lives harder without a clear benefit. Independence can be positive, but theres a time and a place.

      August 26, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  6. morris2196

    There are better uses of the school’s time than this.

    August 25, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  7. kahill

    1998 a similar incident occured, the valedictorian was told if he mentioned anything deemed inappropriate in his graduation speech, his diploma would be held and was even told they would hold his 4 year scholarship to OU. This young man, who overcame many obstacles in life, had made it through storms and strife to earn the honor and benefits from his valedictorian status, only to be bullied by those in power. He went onto the nuclear program with the US Navy, filling many missions. He later was killed in a car accident, but those that remember him, remember his resiliency and abiltiy to rise above those with little minds. It appears that Prague High School continues to limit its students right to free speech. I honor and support you Kaitlin, go beyond the little minds that are trying to bully you into something they don't deserve.

    August 25, 2012 at 6:39 am |
  8. LynnethAnn

    Were the students given a list of forbidden words? If so, that's one thing.

    But in the end, what's the big deal about a piece of paper? She still graduated. She still has all those course credits. And you don't need a diploma to get into college.

    I took the California High School Profieciency Exam 32 years ago. 10th grade was my last year of high school. I started college 15 years ago. I graduated with honors and distinction, with a BA in psychology. Not having that little piece of paper didn't hold me back at all.

    August 24, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • Kate

      Sadly many scholarships do require it

      August 25, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
      • Beth

        Actually, they require a high school transcript. Just because they don't give her the actual diploma doesn't mean they don't have to grant her graduation if all coursework is fulfilled.

        They will definitely lose this in court.

        August 26, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
  9. Bill Nye

    Don't apologize. If she got into college she has no need for the high school diploma.

    I lost my High School Diploma the same day I got it. Now I've got a Bachelor's and a Master's to replace it.

    August 24, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  10. Xgirl360

    Good gravy, its not like she dropped the F-bomb. Hell is a "place" and is so low on the curse scale that the principal needs to get his head out of his posterior and focus on something important. This was the VALEDICTORIAN, meaning she worked her tail off to get where she was. And, its called the 1st Amendment, learn it, love it, live it.

    August 24, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  11. iowagirl33

    People are assuming the use of "hell" was intentional. This girl was speaking in front of her peers, their families and community members, perhaps she was simply nervous and uttered the wrong word. Why take away the symbolical representation of 4 years of clearly hard work? Public school administrators truly believe they hold the sad.

    August 24, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  12. m0rtis


    since that word is such anathema to the prurient crowd, maybe she should have ended her speech with a poem instead:

    Miss Susie had a steamboat
    the steamboat had a bell
    Miss Susie went to Heaven
    the steamboat went to
    hello operator
    please give me number nine
    and if you disconnect me,
    I'll paddle your
    Behind the refrigerator
    there was a piece of glass
    Miss Susie sat upon it and broke her little
    ask me no more questions
    tell me no more lies
    the boys are in the girls' room
    pulling down their flies

    August 24, 2012 at 7:52 am |
    • Epidi

      lol, I haven't heard that one since grade school – which makes me older than dirt I guess.

      August 27, 2012 at 5:47 am |
  13. Really...

    It said no curse words.... She cursed.

    Big deal... Istead of complaining, she could hae just wrote an apology. But nooo! That wouldnt have gotten her in the news. Why are we praising this girl for complaining to get her way? Stop allowing young adults to think this is ok!

    August 24, 2012 at 7:23 am |
    • m0rtis

      really... really??

      but it IS ok - independent thought is only frowned upon with organized religion and oppressive governments.
      What, do we want a bunch of Akins determining "success" in intelligence?
      She said the word "hell", not "Seven words you can never say on TV" by George Carlin.

      I have 3 little words for you too: Get A Grip.

      August 24, 2012 at 8:09 am |
      • Idealist

        m0rtis, you hit the nail on the head. We should be encouraging our youth to be independent thinkers. Speak their mind, that is what free speach is all about. Who cares if it upset some administrators....That is life, we may not agree on everything that is said. We need open debate.

        Personally I think the Principal (and administrators) are guilty of abusing their power in an attempt strong arm a youth. Both the Principal and Administration responsible should be asked to step down.

        August 24, 2012 at 8:57 am |
      • norgan sheridan

        Yep... Hell is not one of Carlin's 7 Curse words. The school administration is just plain wrong and their actions serve to silence and eliminate independent thinking rather than encourage it. And people wonder why so many schools are failing. It is due to the small minds of administrators such as these.

        August 25, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • mapaxn

      "really" you clearly have some control issues. Hell is not a curse word, not like the f bomb, the c word, the b word, or the word that ends with hole and starts with a. If saying the word "hell" has gotten her this much punishment, she should have said ALL the bad words and gave them the finger on the way out.

      August 25, 2012 at 12:50 am |
  14. slrman

    I have often said, education is far too important to leave the administration of it to professional educators. They are too far out of touch with the real world and too interested in bolstering their own egos and protecting their power image.

    This principle should be fired and barred from ever holding another teaching or tax-supported job again. If he had to work at a real job where he is held responsible for his actions every day, he might even become human.

    August 24, 2012 at 7:17 am |
    • Really...

      So its ok that she broke a rule? What other punishment could they have done? Let it slide?
      That would just start a chain reaction of horrible speeches.

      August 24, 2012 at 7:25 am |
      • m0rtis

        yes, yes, i see it now... the word "hell" is the gateway word.

        might say words now like, and, and pu..ssy, uncontrollably.

        how about "big floppy donkey"?

        August 24, 2012 at 8:31 am |
      • m0rtis

        *sob* i can't help myself... i said "hell" when i was 12 years old.

        August 24, 2012 at 9:01 am |
      • slrman

        @Really I see you are another of the arrogant a$$ holes that think you "god" gave you the right to tell everyone else what to do. From your posts, I can see you are just as arrogant, unfeeling, and immoral as this school principle. Obey the imperative from your own bible and "Go forth and multiply thyself."

        August 25, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  15. max3333444555

    she shoulda said he double hockey sticks

    August 23, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • drake mallard

      Who cares about this stupid election? We all know it doesn't matter who gets elected president of Carver. Do you really think it's going to change anything around here? Make one single person smarter or happier or nicer? The only person it does matter to is the one who gets elected. The same pathetic charade happens every year, and everyone makes the same pathetic promises just so they can put it on their transcripts to get into college. So vote for me, because I don't even want to go to college, and I don't care, and as president I won't do anything. The only promise I will make is that if elected I will immediately dismantle the student government, so that none of us will ever have to sit through one of these stupid assemblies again!

      August 23, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
  16. max3333444555

    i suppose she could just sue when colleges send a transcript request to the school and the administration refuses to provide it. i think the administration will be backing down. the risk isnt worth it to the school district for them to take a principle stand.

    i hope next years valedictorian quotes her speech. let the administration suffer for playing games.

    August 23, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  17. Poolchick

    Seems like the people in charge of the schools are becoming a big joke. She said the word hell and they think that's so bad they need to refuse her diploma? Sounds like they are power tripping. Little people trying to be big shots. There are worse things happening in schools than someone saying hell. They need to grow up and learn to pick and choose their battles. I would have told them, " it will be a cold day in HELL when I apologize."

    August 23, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  18. 1stSig

    The real shame here is that her speech was inspired by (get this) that stupid Twilight movie! Seriously? Twilight? I would think the valedictorian could come up with something better than that.

    August 23, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Ryan

      I'd understand if her diploma was withheld because her inspiration was the twilight saga. That's completely understandable.

      August 24, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
  19. marn rice

    Once again, the 'authorities' blast a student, whom they've had to form and mold for 12 years when they don't like honesty and a person's own sense of self. They taught her, so don't go punishing someone for your bad decisions on training!! This is a VERY SAD commentary on our world today...people don't own the brand anymore....

    August 23, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  20. patiat

    And EVERYONE, including and especially the school's administrators, know full well that this young woman is going to go on to do much bigger and better things in life than they ever did. She will leave them there, wallowing in their own intellectual filth, where most educational administrators belong. She aspires to more in life, while her school's administrators aspired to become just what they are: not educators, as they left the classroom behind long ago, but tin-horn toadies who just wanted to create work for others and act superior, in exchange for more money.

    August 23, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  21. mark

    Nothing but political correctness BS and pretty damn pathetic at that.
    I'd sue the school for violation of first amendment rights, possible hardships from not having a diploma and there has to be something they can use that says it's against the law to withhold a diploma for saying hell.
    Seriously, being butt-hurt is no way to go through life people.

    August 23, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  22. momtoadiva

    So it is ok to not follow the rules? That is what most of your are saying. Oh, I know she didn't hurt anyone and maybe she always followed the rules before this one time. But a lot of criminals "were such good boys or girls. I just don't know what happened. Can't you let them go this time.?"

    She broke the rules – there should be a punishment

    I don't believe the punishment for one word should be to withold a diploma that she worked for 12 years to earn.

    August 23, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • mark

      Seriously? I bet you're the type to turn in your own friends if they jaywalk.

      August 23, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • Laura

      There must have been something missing in the version of the story I read. What rule did she break? The story said the administrators were upset by her speech. What were they upset about? that she used the word "hell?" Or were they upset because they disagreed with her, or thought the speech was inappropriate? Sounds pretty stupid to me to let the school decide she doesn't get her diploma because they didn't like her speech. I thought we lived in the United States. You know, freedom of speech, first amendment and all of that?

      August 23, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • ray

      If she had been the JOCK Quarter back the good old boys with the school would have loved it!! But she should get in line the Rep's are going to tell her what to with her body, for the rest of her life! She is honest and smart but what real rights should she have she is not a rich, white, male! Vote Obama

      August 23, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
  23. denman838

    Yet another news story about yet another little tyrant in a public school who think they are above the law and can make idiotic decisions on a whim. This young lady should NEVER apologize to this buffoon. Further, the diploma means nothing. It's entirely symbolic and destined for her scrap book in a few years. It's her transcripts that are important, and if this moron gets in front of them, then it's time to get a lawyer and sue this guy into oblivion.

    August 23, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  24. Awesomejones

    She earned her diploma. On the other hand she does not really need it. She has graduated. The schools attempt to withhold while complete ridiculous is nothing that will mess up her college chances. Unless she is going to a religious university which I hope she is not.

    August 23, 2012 at 11:55 am |
  25. norgan sheridan

    That school is just pathetic. They have failed in their mission and demonstrated that censorship matters significantly more to their state than freedom of speech ever has.

    August 23, 2012 at 11:32 am |
  26. Brian

    If I were her and if I'd known that saying Hell would have been an offense bad enough to garner this ridiculousness I would have gone on a lengthy expletive ridden tirade of epic, Hell, maybe even biblical proportions.

    August 23, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • Durundal

      Couldnt help but laugh at that one, +1

      August 23, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
  27. Fens

    She should just give the standard non-apology apology so often issued by people (usually politicians & preachers) when they accidentally sy something that exposes some aspect of a noxious worldview: "If I offended anyone, I'm deeply sorry..."

    August 23, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • norgan sheridan

      Ah but you know that they won't accept that standard non-apology apology because it lacks sincerity and lacks the understanding that censorship is more desirable to that community than free speech.

      August 23, 2012 at 11:34 am |
  28. Pat Henry

    This is exactly the problem with schools today. They are so sanitized, so regimented so rigid. There is no freedom of thought or expression. Rick martin is an idiot!

    August 23, 2012 at 9:48 am |
  29. Rein

    The problem is NOT what she said, but the implicit challenge to authority. Where would this country be if people challeged and questioned those with power? If she writes the letter and shows subservience, the problem will be solved!

    August 23, 2012 at 9:33 am |
    • Robert

      TO: Rein

      I actually laughed when i read this Rein. Are you serious? You ask: "Where would this country be if people challenged and questioned those with power?" Really are you kiddiing? If people DID NOT challenge or question those with power we would be a dictatorship or communist country. It is because Americans DO question and challenge that we are the U.S.A., the best country in the world. We questioned and challenged during English Rule, during the Civil Rights movement. Should we not have? C'mon Rein, we as Americans, especially our young people who are our future, have the responsibility to question and challenge the system, the government, and even ridiculous school rules when we feel they are obsolete, outdated, ridiculous, or violate our civil rights. Nothing wrong with questioning and challenging...that's what our Country is built on.

      August 23, 2012 at 11:15 am |
      • Macbeth

        Uh, what's really wrong with this country is its inability to recognize SARCASM. Robert, Awesomejones, Rein is being sarcastic.

        August 23, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
      • Robert

        @ Macbeth: I dont think Rein is being sarcastic, although, like you that's what i thought at first. BUT, I sure hope your assumption is right! Oh, and Macbeth, is the inability to recognize sarcasm REALLY what's wrong with this Country? Really? Oh, mabye YOU were just being sarcastic!! Ha Ha.

        August 23, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
      • Durundal

        Rebel without a clue/cause?

        August 23, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Awesomejones

      Rein, whats your address I want to mail you 1.25$ You can then buy a gallon of bleach and get a free paper funnel from the gas station. Once you have these 2 items you will need to insert the funnel into your mouth and pour the bleach down the funnel.

      This is a cheap way to prevent idiots like you from breeding even more idiots into our society.

      August 23, 2012 at 11:36 am |
      • Just a guy

        i believe it is humanity prupose to create chaos..i mean look at us. one girl says hell and and is punish plus to that people fighting over this and then fighting over a other thing. this is a place to be for able to put your own opinon and not get mock for it wether or not you agree or oppose not if you think a other person ideals are dumb and that should i quote "insert the funnel into your mouth and pour the bleach down the funnel" or "Find the sharpest knife and cut off your brain"... so please aren't there enough violence in the world without us fighting over every little thing..

        August 24, 2012 at 3:54 am |
  30. Jonathan

    I'm surprised of all the support this girl is getting. Did she know there were little kids in the crowd? If she is supposed to be so smart, then she could have used other words to get her point across just fine. She displayed a lack of judgement and lack of class.

    August 23, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • Julian Chan

      Because the issue is . . . should school administrators have this sort of arbitrary power to withhold diplomas? What if they decided they just didn't like her race, her hair color, or the color of her dress. And personally I find nothing inappropriate about what she said. I've attended two Ivy league schools . . . but what the hell do i know!?!

      August 23, 2012 at 8:58 am |
    • Miguel

      Jonathan you clearly have not graduated from High school, with your thought process.

      August 23, 2012 at 9:09 am |
    • Jeff

      So kids can hear the word "Hell" in church and not be affected, but hearing the word at a graduation should cause outrage ? Give me a F'ing break. Perhaps any preacher/priest in the USA should be cited then for lack of judgement and lack of class.

      August 23, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • Awesomejones

      You are out of touch with reality. A 6 year old can watch family guy on FOX and learn an extensive vocabulary of interesting phrases within 5 minutes. Who really cares about the use of the word HELL in any context or any forum. Please do not breed. The earth is dying from your kind.

      August 23, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • dvegil

      whaaaaat are you on crack, she said Hell............whats that gotta do with kids unless they have been sanitized.

      August 23, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • denman838

      Jonathon, over the word "hell"/ Oh for heaven's sake. Grow a pair, would you?

      August 23, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • max3333444555

      the word was hell. this is insane.

      August 23, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  31. Rebecca

    For pete's sake. Give the scholar her diploma. To Kaitlin, I say. You go girl!.. Don't write any stupid letter of apology. Use appropriate sign language to the principal and superintendent as you go off to college with a full ride. The HELL with them.

    August 23, 2012 at 12:24 am |
  32. Mandy

    If the "H" word was the worst she said, the school should be happy. At least it wasn't the "F" word or worse. It's time for more current people to be in charge of schooling. These people are supposed to be educated, but geez, come out ot the dark ages already!!!

    August 22, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
  33. Jason

    I guess these folks haven't been to any school sporting event. A good portion of the students at these events have mouths a sailor would be embarrassed by. Do they actually think this is some moral stance? I'm sure this is the worst thing those kids heard all day (sarcasm)!

    August 22, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
  34. ERP

    Superintendent Rick Martin said, " This matter is confidential and we can not publicly say anything about it." Rick it's a public school so nothing is confidentential except personal student records. The Superintendent's position is voted in by the public. If he will not take action on this simply vote him out. A new Superintentent can fire the Pincipal. I'm sure Rick and the Principal both have used profanity and will continue to use it. This is one school I would not trust my childresns education to.

    August 22, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
  35. frawgsdill

    Nothing suprises me anymore when it comes to schools.

    August 22, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  36. Sierra

    I've always said that the biggest group of ignorance is in the teacher's lounge. They may be educated but that sure doesn't give them common sense. A principal is just someone that couldn't teach and is the head moron.

    Makes me think that he probably hit on her all year and she rebuked his attempts so he thought he would just get even with her by withholding the diploma.

    August 22, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  37. lbdukeep

    The school is holding back her diploma because she said she didn't know what she wanted to be? That's pretty pitiful for a school to worry about a statement such as that. Hell, I'm 61 and I still don't know what I want to be – sounds like facisim to me.

    August 22, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Oldgreystud

      "HELL" I agree. I'm 63 and I still don't have a clue what I want to be. If these self righteous bigguts didn't want to hear and appreciate what this beautiful person had to say, they should never been the ones to ask her to speak in the first place. It's not only freedom of speech that I love, it's the freedom to say what you want to say, in the manner that you choose to say it.

      August 22, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  38. Jon

    I would stick to my guns and not apologize. All she needs to do is go to the board of education and ask for a printout showing she graduated. She doesn't need the physical diploma. It is childish to withhold it but it's not necessary as proof. All she needs is her high school transcript which they can't alter.

    August 22, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  39. jman

    I guess we should do away with the entire tradition of walking the stage and giving speeches. Just email the diplomas to the grads the last day of school. This will never happen again;)

    August 22, 2012 at 11:58 am |
  40. Caiha

    Actually I think it's illegal to be smart in Oklahoma, so she's lucky they didn't throw her in jail.

    August 22, 2012 at 8:24 am |
    • Kate

      LOL! I needed that!

      August 23, 2012 at 9:51 am |
  41. RandelFlag

    I thought the diploma was to be given for her grades in school. I think it's best to sue. If she loose the suite, then say she is sorry. After she get her diploma, then retract her apology.

    August 22, 2012 at 7:21 am |
  42. Lee Jackson

    Give the girl her diploma..she earned it.

    August 22, 2012 at 7:02 am |
  43. Beelzebub

    Everyone always has to bring religion into to every aspect of life. No one can ever just realize that heaven and hell is a myth. Giver her the stupid piece of paper already. I can't even believe this is on CNN what a waist of time.

    August 22, 2012 at 6:27 am |
  44. les

    she should apoligize and then tell the principle to go to hell .i think this whole thing is stupid . i also think that she also tell the principle to go to hell in public.

    August 22, 2012 at 3:24 am |
  45. Rebecca

    I don't understand why the school should just be forced to hand over this diploma? The girl presented her speech one way, which was in accordance with the schools guidelines and was approved and then said something different. Has everyone forgotten that you don't have all of the rights that you do as a free and clear adult in high school? And the idea that she should sue for this is just ridiculous! She should take this as a growing experience, give the apology and understand tht this is what part of being an adult is.

    August 21, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
    • dan

      look at this pragmatically – you think the girl should not graduate high school because she used the word "hell" in a non-offensive way at graduation...if so then you must live in the south.

      August 22, 2012 at 9:34 am |
      • bob


        You obviously know nothing about the education system. They are not withholding her transcripts or keeping her from graduating. They are just holding the diploma. She has to accept responsibility for her actions. She misrepresented what she was going to say, and changed it. I t was premeditated. I have no sympathy.

        August 22, 2012 at 9:58 am |
      • Awesomejones


        Please rush to the nearest kitchen drawer, Find the sharpest knife and cut off your brain, er I mean weenie. Don't breed OK.. The world has no need for idiots with no empathy and a grudge against a high school student with a bright future.

        August 23, 2012 at 11:49 am |
      • bob

        Awesome Jones,

        I take it from your clever retort that they withheld your diploma due to failing grades. Her actions were deliberate. She knew what was expected of her speech, and she made a choice. That particular choice has repercussions. Why should I feel bad for her?

        August 23, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • Ed

      Here is a novel idea. Principal wants to stick to his guns, fine. If the girl sues, and wins, he pays the legal fees for all parties or is fired. Unless he apolpgizes publically.

      The crap has to end......using your position to bully people at the expense of taxpayers, etc.

      August 22, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • Tracie

      First off Heaven and Hell is not a myth..just as we exist so does God.. take the gravity away and your off in space...Now who thought that one up!

      I also think using swear words is a lack of education and the school has evey right to demand an apology. Respect for little ears and those she may offend... Just like any other issue. Respect..

      August 22, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
      • Awesomejones

        I could cite article after article of proven science showing that humans evolved from an ape that evolved from a fish. But I will not, I have learned my lesson in dealing with religious fanatics and zealots. Your line of thinking is what is keeping our society in the muck.

        August 23, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • Dave

      By commencement night, students have completed all the requirements for graduation, are now of legal age, and soon to be taxpayers. High school administration do not have the same authority over them as they did as students.

      August 22, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
    • Rebecca

      BS! She has nothing to apologize for, period. Her only learning experience is that the educators are idiots and it will come back to bite them in the ass, not her. She's already got a full ride to college. The school cannot withhold her transcripts showing proof of that. I've been around teenagers today and the majority of them have mouths worse than a drunken sailor. I don't any issue what so ever in her speech. The principal and superintendent need to stop getting their Jockey's in a pinch.

      August 23, 2012 at 12:31 am |
  46. Kane Marko

    It's funny.....any public figure that utters ANYTHING that offends some fringe group gets crucified in the press, and in little blogs like this. So, we want to inject a little more fantasy into this girl's life by cheering her on for jabbering some lame comments at a meaningful public moment? Yeah, that lesson will serve her well in life. When my next son graduates, I hope the valedictorian flatulates "Too Legit To Quit" for their speech....something profound and memorable, and really beneficial to our culture. Knuckleheads.

    August 21, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
    • Ed

      Has anyone you know ever attended a HS graduation? Attendees don't go to be enlightened, or entertained.

      August 22, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  47. Nancyjean

    Principals are so often pompous buffoons there. I've witnessed many of these bombastic incompetent men try to demean young women at the end of their HS years. Let's teach these men to get on their knees and apologize to students. Hell does not exist except in the halls of the HS. Hell is a concept early Christians who went East through Persia adopted from Zoroastrians.

    August 21, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
  48. Paul

    Straight A Student ? Valedictorian ? Full Scolarship ? Mr. Principal I think you need to be a real educator and know when to shut up and back the "hell" off. What kind of example are you setting ? Shame on you.

    August 21, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
  49. RichD

    Offer the apology.
    Get your Diploma
    Offer your apology for the ignorant principal and their inability to recognize a straight A student is far more important than the word "hell" – Perhaps several thousand people standing in front of the school with signs "Hell has arrived" might help too!

    Congrats and enjoy college!

    August 21, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • Bob

      You have to submit your speech beforehand, traditionally. So she intentionally left it out and then put it in later, no?

      August 21, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
      • Nabia

        Who cares, she earned her diploma, hes speech should have no bearing on an item based on the work she previously did. This is the act of an overbearing principal.

        August 22, 2012 at 9:22 am |
      • Rebecca

        Who gives a rats ass? Straight A's? Full Ride? Top of her class. Have a HELL of a good time at college.

        August 23, 2012 at 12:34 am |
      • drk

        Yes, Bob. That is correct.

        August 23, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
  50. Will

    I agree IcePrincess. I would sue the school for my diploma and a written apology from them.

    It's funny how some schools can invite the drags of society to speak under the protection of "free speech" and then another school can withhold a diploma from someone who is a role model because she used the word "hell" in her speech.

    August 21, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
  51. Patty

    I bet if her speech included her religous belief in which she condemns sinners to hell, the admin would have no problem with it.

    August 21, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
  52. anonymous

    I imagined this was going to be about how she gave a speech criticizing the school or advocating some unpopular political view. Hell, that principal sounds worse then Putin.

    August 21, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
  53. Georges Devleeschouwer

    I think this is a shameful blackmail and a abuse of power from the principal. She earned her diploma, no one has the right to withhold it from her. She should introduce a law suit and seek compensations altogether. Bless her.

    August 21, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • drk

      Great idea, if she could prove damages. However, she is in no way damaged by not being handed a meaningless piece of fancy paper. Diplomas aren't worth the 3 cent piece of paper they are printed on. TRANSCRIPTS count. The school is not withholding her transcripts. That would merit a lawsuit.

      August 23, 2012 at 1:22 pm |

    That Child Earned her Diploma ... Bottom Line. I am sure there are far worse words being spoken in the teachers lounges and in the Hallways... Give that child her diploma and get over yourself dude.. Such a complete abuse of power! how dare he!

    August 21, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  55. New Gawker

    Can we expect any less from a bunch of yahoo's?

    August 21, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • melvinslizard

      That principal probably thinks the earth is only 4000 years old...

      August 21, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  56. JB

    She was required to submit the speech for approval and she had, "How the heck...". She changed the word at graduation so I'm torn. Did she intentionally submit the speech with heck because she knew that hell would not be approved – if so that's the price you pay.

    August 21, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • RichD

      So you believe that we should teach our children that while you have rights – the school has a right to take your rights?

      Really? Perhaps the school should NOT screen a speech at all! Imagine a country that protects the right to free speech – she didn't yell "fire" she said "hell" Bet the principal watches HBO along with the entire audience.

      This is classic social bullying

      August 21, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • Awesomejones

      Does it really matter? She used the word "hell".... seriously buddy, you are a complete and utter tool. What have you contributed to society other than your small narrow minded opinion and a gaggle of idiot children who hate you?

      August 23, 2012 at 11:53 am |
  57. Dan M

    Really.. Hell? It's said on TV left and right! It wasn't offending anyone, she was saying a extremely common phrase! If she gives in and apologizes, then it shows that the school taught her nothing.

    August 21, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Ed

      I guarantee that the school superintendent asks the principal "how the hell did you think this was going to end" when they payout the judgement.

      August 22, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  58. Dave B.

    The official mascot of the school is The Red Devils. (see wikipedia) How can a student go to a high school where the teams are named devils, and then it's forbidden to say the word hell? If they are so sensitive on the subject, maybe they should change their mascot's name to the Angels.... oh.. I forgot that's even worse !!! To be completely politically correct we can't mention that other H word... Heaven.
    I think religiously neutral team names like The Dirtbags, or The Pansies are available.

    August 21, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  59. appapo

    I'd like to see the whole speech before taking sides (and the rules on which the principal bases the decision, if any)

    August 21, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
  60. iceprincess

    Perhaps she should file a lawsuit against the school and the principal for violating her right to free speech – I'm sure that diploma will cost much less than the lawsuit and of course the award for emotional distress.

    August 21, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  61. Typical

    This is just a typical display of administrative abuse of power. I think that people become school administrators for the same reason other people become cops: for the power and control

    August 21, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  62. Elizabeth

    This is crazy..It's her speech to her graduating class and then she's the valedictorian..she should have the right to say what she wants to them..when i graduated i didn't care about the valedictorian speech or any of the other speeches that i heard during my high school graduation ceremony because all i cared about was walking across the stage to receive my diploma..that's ashame that the only way for her to get her diploma is to write an apology letter...

    August 21, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  63. hyperhacker

    There are speech Nazi's in all places in America, and more still in other places of the world; in my opinion, the principal is such a Nazi.

    August 21, 2012 at 2:21 pm |