No prayer at high school graduation

No prayer at high school graduation
By: Carly O'keefe

MARION, Il. --Prayer has been a long-standing tradition at Marion High School's annual graduation, but the Marion Unit Two School Board voted Tuesday that this year, there will be no invocation.
The decision was made in light of a pending lawsuit filed by Robert Marsh of Marion regarding last year's graduation prayer. Legal counsel advised the school board that a prayer at this year's graduation could potentially lead to another lawsuit against the district, or even--against the board members themselves.
"The majority of the high school would like prayer at graduation, I'm definitely for it," said Marion High School sophomore Ashton Plumer.
While many Marion High School students and much of the community want a prayer said at graduation--most understand why the board has voted not to put it in the program this year.
"This isn't two sides," said President of the Marion Ministerial Alliance, Pastor Bill Rucker of First Christian Church Disciples of Christ. "We are united; there isn't a single member of the school board who wants to cut prayer out of graduation. However the legal counsel said the Supreme Court put a ruling against prayer at graduation, and I think it's their responsibility to protect the school district legally."
According to the school district's attorney Merry Rhoades, the board's decision was not made lightly. It forced the board and administrators to choose between a tradition that's always existed at Marion High School or another possible lawsuit.
Some students say while they may not like it, they understand why the class of 2007 will be the first not to have a graduation prayer.
"I'm still going to believe in my faith and they can believe in their faith, but we've gotta stick to the rules of no prayer in school," said Marion High School senior James Redden.
Others suggest graduates independently find their own way to pray on their special day.
"If they'd like to stand up and mention God or say a prayer, they should do that," said parent Cindy Pool. "The board, I understand that they need to do what the law says. But the students need to stand up for what they want to do."
The district will still hold the annual baccalaureate ceremony for graduating seniors on May 16.