POTEET, Texas - Poteet High School Senior Shelby Martinez is considering a change to her commencement speech. She wants to add a prayer since the school district is ending a long tradition.
According to Superintendent Andy Castillo, the program will no longer include an invocation and benediction. Instead, they will read opening and closing remarks because of legal concerns about religion. Recently the superintendent said the district was contacted by Americans United for Separation of Church and State when someone issued a complaint about religion in the graduation program.
Last the Medina Valley Independent School District was embroiled in a lawsuit with a family and forced to exclude prayer at the 2011 graduation. Castillo said his district was advised to make changes and he said the Divine School Districtrecently did the same.
Allen Weaver, pastor of First Baptist Church Poteet, isn’t bothered by the district dropping the words "invocation" and "benediction" from the ceremony. But he is concerned about a history of prayer being lost if students don’t decide to pray during the graduation.
The superintendent said graduating seniors have a personal right to offering prayer or remarks during the ceremony.
The Poteet High School graduation is Friday night at 7:30.