No Protests At Ceremony
A ceremony sponsored by local Christian churches to honor graduating seniors from Pinecrest High School occurred without incident Thursday.
Last week, a Jewish parent of two Pinecrest seniors voiced concerns that the ceremony was not inclusive for students from different faiths. The parent said she was considering protesting at the event.
"I stayed home," Amy Lorber said. "I felt like that was the right thing to do."
Her children did not attend the celebration.
Lorber said she has spoken by phone with Superintendent Susan Purser, and said the conversation was productive.
"She (Purser) was very apologetic," Lorber said. "She said she had started speaking with staff about what is appropriate and what is not appropriate."
Lorber said she wants the school system to remove religion from anything it sanctions. She cited examples like giving students extra credit on a math test for knowing when Christmas Day is and being allowed to hang an ornament on a Christmas tree for doing good work.
"I want the school to stop using religious examples in their schooling," Lorber said. "And I think she (Purser) is very aware of that."
"As far as this particular incident, maybe next year they (organizers) will say maybe we need to include other people."
The ceremony Thursday night was sponsored by eight to 10 churches. It was intended to give the students a spiritual sendoff, according to organizers.
The churches rented the auditorium at Pinecrest High School. The event was held after school hours and was not sponsored by the school.
Lorber contacted Purser and The Pilot with her concerns about the event when she saw a flier her daughter brought home.
Lorber objected because the flier was distributed to seniors at a mandatory meeting during school hours. She said she wants others to be aware that their actions, whether intended or not, can be hurtful.
"If that piece of paper had come in the mail, I wouldn't have thought twice about it," she said.
The flier invited students to a "special service" at 7 p.m. Thursday. It says students would be called on stage to receive "a special gift of items every senior needs (computer thumb drive, Pizza Hut discount cards, etc.), a Bible, and the thanks and praise from those attending for a job well done."
The service was to feature a worship band, speakers, including an inspirational evangelist, and performances by a choir and an interpretive dance group, according to the flier.
Organizers of the event said Tuesday that the ceremony, which was started last year, was an effort to give students a "spiritual send-off" and was not meant to exclude anyone.
A story published in Wednesday's Pilot generated several e-mails and phone calls to The Pilot. Many of the responses supported the organizers of the ceremony.
In several interviews, Lorber called the situation a "gray area" and said she planned to contact the ACLU about the incident. She maintained that position Thursday.
However, she remains hopeful that next year's event can be more inclusive.
"Let's try to include everybody," she said. "It that happens, that would be the most positive thing that could come out of this."
Contact Tom Embrey at 693-2473 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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