AU received a complaint that students at the Wyoming Area Secondary Center — a public high-school — were slated to deliver prayers at the school’s graduation ceremony and that the school district had played a role in organizing, promoting, and encouraging students to attend a baccalaureate ceremony. We wrote a letter to school district officials explaining that the presentation of prayers at public-school graduations, and the school’s sponsorship of baccalaureate ceremonies, are unconstitutional.
AU learned that Western Brown High School had a practice of including prayer at its annual graduation ceremonies. In May 2005, pastors from the local Church of Christ and First Baptist Church delivered an invocation and a benediction at the high school’s commencement ceremony. In an effort to prevent a repeat of the Establishment Clause violation during the high school’s May 2006 graduation, AU wrote a letter to school officials informing them that any prayer — whether offered by a school official, outside clergy, or a student — is impermissible at public-school graduations.
The Class of 2010 graduated from Enfield (Conn.) High School yesterday, and based on local reports, it seems as though students and parents had a good time, despite the controversy over where to hold the ceremony.
This past weekend, I attended my sister’s graduation ceremony at the University of Michigan, where President Barack Obama delivered the commencement address.
The Ann Arbor ceremony included a variety of speeches welcoming the students, their families and the president. Some speeches were inspiring, others were congratulatory and most contained a good deal of school spirit. (Being a Buckeye myself, hearing “Go Blue” shouted by our president particularly stung.)
A few weeks ago, I mentioned a graduating senior who asked his Ohio high school to change its policy of beginning and ending commencement with Christian prayers.
Thanks to Jacob Davis' courage in publicly opposing this policy, the Chillicothe school has finally agreed to abide by the Constitution -- for the most part.