- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 23, 2018

A recent graduate of West Prairie High School in Sciota, Illinois, is exploring legal options after school officials allegedly ordered him to remove all mentions of Jesus Christ from his commencement speech.

Sam Blackledge, 18, told Fox News this week that he “wanted to cry” after he was forced to edit his graduation address moments before its delivery. The all-star student said he was ordered to deliver generic comments devoid of the true inspiration for his academic performance.

“Christ is the only reason I was a valedictorian. He’s the reason I got that 4.0. If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be up there. I was giving him the credit for that,” he said Monday.

Jeremy Dys, the student’s attorney, told a CBS affiliate in Kansas that school officials infringed upon the young man’s First Amendment rights.

“They actually violated the Constitution,” the First Liberty Institute attorney said Tuesday. “They’d do well to remember, as ‘Tinker v. Des Moines,’ the case in 1969, reminds us, that students do not shed their constitutional rights when they walk through the schoolhouse gates.”

A meeting between Mr. Blackledge and the school’s superintendent has been scheduled, the Kansas City Star reported.

Superintendent Carol Kilver said that district officials were meeting with legal counsel when contacted by The McDonough County Voice.

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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