- The Washington Times - Friday, May 26, 2017

An 8th-grade salutatorian delivered a speech to a crowd of supporters across the street from his graduation ceremony in Illinois after his remarks were banned by the school for mentioning God and the Bible.

Seth Clark, 13, stood in the front yard of a family friend’s home across the street from his graduation ceremony in Akin on May 16 and thanked God for placing good people in his life and the Church for providing him support.

The boy was told just hours before his graduation that he would not be allowed to deliver the pre-submitted speech on school grounds, Fox News’ Todd Starnes reported.

“As a public school, it is our duty to educate students, regardless of how different they or their beliefs may be,” Akin Superintendent and Principal Kelly Clark said in a statement to the Benton Evening News.

“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,” she said.

Becky Clark, the boy’s mother, told Mr. Starnes that once it was time for the valedictorian and the salutatorian to deliver their speeches at the May 16 event, the children invited the audience to join them across the street. The house’s owner, Ricky Karroll, told the Evening News about “50 or 60 people” showed up.

“It was the proudest moment of my life,” Mrs. Clark said. “He is more courageous at the age of 13 than I am at the age of 43.”

“This is not an attention thing for him,” she said. “He wanted to share what was on his heart about God.”

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