VALDOSTA – Student-led prayer resumed Friday evening prior to the Lowndes High School football game.
It was part of a new proposed policy that will allow students to determine a presentation for pre-game activities – a presentation that can share a religious viewpoint, or not.
A student led an invocation as part of the pre-game activities at Martin Stadium. The prayer ended with an amen. The crowd cheered. A moment of silence followed.
The Sept. 6 home game did not include the traditional pre-game prayer after Warren Turner, Lowndes County Board of Education attorney, received a letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation stating “the district must take immediate action to end the practice of scheduling prayer at school-sponsored events and end the use of district equipment to project prayers to the public.”
The letter, sent from Christopher Line, a Patrick O’Reiley legal fellow, Aug. 30, was the result of a concerned Lowndes County school parent who contacted the nonprofit foundation about the football game prayer.
Earlier this week, the county school board heard the first reading of a proposal allowing students to speak during pre-game ceremonies without interference from the school administration.
Under Article I, titled "Student Expression of Religious Viewpoints," the proposal states: "The school district shall treat a student's voluntary expression of a religious viewpoint, if any, on an otherwise permissible subject in the same manner the district treats a student's voluntary expression of a secular or other viewpoint on an otherwise permissible subject and may not discriminate against the student based on a religious viewpoint expressed by the student on an otherwise permissible subject."
Students could choose to say a prayer, read an essay or a poem, etc.
The proposal also defines how students are to be selected as speakers in non-graduation events and graduation, that student introductions must be related to the purpose of the event, etc.
While the proposal will not be ready for a vote until the second reading scheduled for the Oct. 7 board meeting, school administrators were welcome to put the policy criteria into effect for the pre-game activities this week, Turner said.
Valdosta High School presented its traditional prayer over the loud speaker prior to the start of its game Friday night.