|Updated: 8/22/2012 9:25 am
||Published: 8/21/2012 9:23 pm
The word “hell” is still causing a world of controversy for Prague Public Schools.
Last week, the valedictorian of the 2012 class, Kaitlin Nootbaar, was not allowed to get her diploma until she apologized for using the word in her address to her classmates at graduation.
Kaitlin’s father, David, says it was this line that got her in hot water,
“She said, ‘When I was little I wanted to be a nurse. As I got a little bit older, I wanted to be a veterinarian. Now, as graduation gets closer and people ask me I say, ‘How the hell do I know? I have changed my mind so many times.’’"
In her rough draft, Kaitlin had heck written instead of hell.
“I don't know anyone that goes verbatim in their actual speech. Everyone adlibs a little bit and the emotion comes out,” Prague resident Jim Liddle told FOX23.
Kaitlin has so far refused to apologize for using the word in her speech.
“People have to stand up for what they believe in, and both sides apparently have these beliefs,” Charles Cashman said.
While many in Prague want Kaitlin to get her diploma, they also say the district needs to send a more streamlined message to students. The district’s mascot is the Red Devil.
People say the national spot light is getting as hot as Hades.
“Everyone thinks it’s gotten way out of hand,” Cashman said.
The people who FOX23 spoke with say they are taking Kaitlin’s side.
“He needs to apologize to her and give her the diploma,” Tonia Guess said of the principal.
“I don't believe they should force a young person to apologize to this extent for a word that's so freely used in this society,” Cashman said.
“Give the girl her diploma that she earned,” Liddle told FOX23.
Kaitlin's dad wants the same thing
"I want to see her get her diploma."
Rick Martin, Superintendent at Prague Public Schools, did release this statement, “Unfortunately, I have not had any communication with any member of the Nootbaar family regarding this matter. It has been reported that the District is denying Ms. Nootbaar a diploma because of a statement made during the 2012 graduation exercises. My comments are limited to those matters already released to the media by the Nootbaar family.
Valedictorians for Prague Public Schools earn this title though the achievement of academic excellence. Our school has traditionally allowed the valedictorian to speak as part of the District’s graduation ceremonies. Speakers are allowed significant freedom in their remarks, but all speeches must be approved in advance as being appropriate for graduation exercises, In this case, Ms. Nootbaar prepared an appropriate speech, which was approved by the high school principal. Unfortunately, she did not present the speech as written and used language that was inappropriate for a graduation exercise. Therefore, the high school principal requested a private apology for her transgression before releasing her diploma. His request was both reasonable and in keeping with established federal case law interpreting the First Amendment.
Ms. Nootbaar is an outstanding student and her achievements have reflected positively on our District. It is my hope that the family will contact me personally so that this matter may be resolved between the proper parties.”