Pottsgrove High School community at odds over prayer at graduation

Pottsgrove, Pa. (WTXF) The Pottsgrove High School community is at odds over a graduation tradition. 

FOX 29's Shawnette Wilson has the story.

20-year-old J.C. Garges remembers giving the benediction at his graduation for Pottsgrove High School in 2014.

"It was just about sharing my faith with my students and getting to say a prayer over my class," he recalled.

Garges is disappointed to hear it won't be allowed at his alma mater's graduation this year after some say prayers at previous graduations focused on one specific denomination; the Christian faith.

"I can see where they can say this isn't something I do so I don't see why we have to do it. But I don’t really see why they would also have to complain or say it would bother me for the 30 seconds that we had to have a prayer," said Garges.

The Superintendent of the Pottsgrove School District tells us a parent complained after last year's graduation which included an invocation and benediction given by students who were selected by staff. School Board President Rick Rabinowitz says he also expressed concern after the tone of the prayer.

"We have a diverse community representing multiple faiths and just because one faith is the dominant faith doesn't mean that there aren't many different religious backgrounds in our community," he said. Rabinowitz also says it’s illegal.

"The law does not allow the school to provide a program prayer in school related ceremonies. There are multiple Supreme Court decisions dating back to 1963 when I was born and those decisions are clear," he said.

The Superintendent says the District  Solicitor is currently advising the board on the issue. Meanwhile, a parent we talked to disagrees with doing away with the 20 year tradition.

"I don't think it's right," said Mary Walter. She has a grandchild graduating next year.

A public meeting to review the issue will be held Tuesday June 7th at 7:30 p.m.  at the high school. Graduation is June 15th.



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