What the Hell? Witholding a High-School Diploma for “Cursing”?

Maybe my stint in the Marine Corps has warped my perspective on what constitutes bad language. But I found the story of an Oklahoma high-school valedictorian whose diploma was withheld by the school principal because the girl “cursed” absolutely outrageous.

Kaitlin Nootbaar, 18, was giving a speech to the Prague, OK, high school class of 2012 and talked about the difficulty she was having setting on a career choice. “How the hell do I know? I’ve changed my mind so many time,” she said.

According to her father, Kaitlin(who graduated with a 4.0 average) was referencing the book, Eclipse–volume three in The Twilight Saga series. In the movie, there’s a scene that takes place at a high school graduation, and one of the characters–also talking about career choices says this:

When we were five, they asked us what we we, theranted to be when we grew up. Our answers were things like astronaut, president, or in my case, a princess. When we were ten, they asked us again and we answered – rock star, cowboy, or in my case, gold medalist. But now that we’ve grown up, they want a serious answer. Well, how ’bout this: who the hell knows? This isn’t the time to make hard and fast decisions, this is the time to make mistakes.

As the father of two college students, I think that remark is dead on. And given how popular the Twilight movies and books have been, I guarantee that Kaitlin’s classmates got the reference.

So the question is this: What the hell is the matter with the school administrators? Why are they so out of touch with popular culture that they didn’t catch the literary reference?


What the Hell? Witholding a High-School Diploma for “Cursing”? was last modified: March 27th, 2014 by Armin


  1. Jeannine Lafin says:

    I too was incredulous when I heard this story on the news. I feel that there are definitely words that shouldn’t be used until one has earned through maturity the right to use them – knowing when and in what company certain words are acceptable. As a graduating senior in high school, she’s earned it! We see the use of the word “hell” in everyday society anyway, for example the Heluva Good!® sour cream and cheese products which are found on grocery store shelves, not behing the counter with the cold medicine and cigarettes. Spelled differently but the intention was literal – I checked the company site. I hope the outcome lands in her favor.

  2. dadblunders says:

    Schools have changed so much. They fear everything (totally understandable) and accept little from students. They are so hard pressed to meet current standards they have become out of touch with the world of today. Standardized tests are wonderful but at what point do we say enough and also remember that creativity and ingenuity are the backbones of our country.


    • You are right on target. What’s the point of straight As and memorizing a bunch of stuff if you can’t think creatively or work with others? South Korea, which has one of the most grade- and test-score-focused systems, also has one of the highest student suicide rates in the world. Just how much is an A worth? Not a life.

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