In what would be a normal day for the small town of Akin, Illinois, is now making headlines because of the boldness of a graduating 8th grader.
The 8th grader, Seth Clark, was denied an opportunity to share a speech which included references to God and the Bible, but then something amazing happened.
Per Benton News:
What would have been a speech heard by about a hundred is now near trending on social media.
Like most area schools, students, usually class presidents, valedictorians and salutatorians, submit their prepared graduation speeches to school officials for approval prior to the ceremony.
When Akin Grade School salutatorian Seth Clark submitted his speech, it contained references to “God-like forgiveness” as well as a quote from the Bible. School officials, reacting to a complaint from a local citizen, decided Seth would not be allowed to deliver the address.
The school officially disapproved Clark’s speech because the graduation is a school-sponsored event:
“As a public school, it is our duty to educate students, regardless of how different they or their beliefs may be,” the statement says. “While students are welcome to pray or pursue their faith without disrupting school or infringing upon the rights of others, the United States Constitution prohibits the school district from incorporating such activities as part of school-sponsored events, and when the context causes a captive audience to listen or compels other students to participate.”
“Because graduation is an official, school-sponsored event, the law would prohibit incorporating prayer or worship into the schedule of events, the statement goes on to say. “We respect the diverse beliefs our students and their families hold, and we strive to educate all such students in compliance with the law.”
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The salutatorian was offered a position on a friend’s porch across the street from the school in which he could give his speech:
The decision to disallow Seth’s speech at the graduation ceremony drew criticism from one Akin resident, Ricky Karroll.
Karroll, who said he is friends with Seth’s parents, offered his property across the street from the school as a venue for Seth and two of his classmates to deliver his speech after the official ceremony.
“He (Seth) got up and said at graduation they were told they were not allowed to give their speeches and would be giving them across the street after (the ceremony),” Karroll said.
Evangelist Franklin Graham was inspired by the 8th grader and shared his story over Facebook, mentioning, “Seth referenced God, quoted from the Bible, and mentioned his Christian faith. Sounds like a great speech to me!”:
Check out the speech: