Grade school graduation canceled following prayer controversy

Published: May. 7, 2013 at 6:02 PM CDT|Updated: May. 7, 2013 at 9:04 PM CDT
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LAKE CITY, AR (KAIT)- The Riverside School district has decided not to have a 6th grade graduation this year after a parent protested against prayer during the ceremony.

Sixth grade parent Kelly Adams said saying a prayer at graduation has never been an issue before which is why a lot of parents are very upset.

"As Christians and a mainly Christian town I think, there were a lot of people hurt that our rights were taken away," Adams said.

"My daughter graduated last year from 6th grade and my son is graduating this year from 6th grade, and we had a pastor open our ceremony and my daughter actually closed the ceremony in prayer," she said. 

The school district decided to cancel the graduation ceremony after one parent came out and protested the prayer. 

"A lot of people were upset, a lot of the moms were really upset and I was very upset," Adams said.

"We just went to take a stand for God because we felt like out rights were taken away."

Adams said the school received a letter from the American Civil Liberties Union regarding the graduation ceremony.

"I realize they have rights too but you can't take rights away from one group and give it to another," she said.

Adams said she believes the school district made the best decision they could at the time so the parents decided to take action.  

"A lot of the parents, the Christian parents decided to get together and do it at the church," she said.

Adams said some of the parents are meeting Thursday to discuss which church will host the ceremony and to re-plan graduation.

"We are including everyone, everyone is invited, we want everyone to come and be a part of it," she said. 

Adams said it's important to have a ceremony to recognize students for their achievements.

"We're not trying to be pushy or ugly to anybody, we just want them to know there is a God who loves them," she said.

We reached out to superintendent Tommy Knight with Riverside School and said he was advised not to comment at this time

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