For nearly a decade, the Elmbrook School District near Milwaukee, Wisconsin, held its high-school graduation ceremonies in the sanctuary of an evangelical Christian church. A cross towered over the dais -- upon which graduation speakers addressed the audience and graduating seniors received their diplomas.
Starting in 2007, the Enfield Public Schools (located just north of Hartford, Connecticut) began holding the Schools’ two high-school graduations in the sanctuary of a Christian church, the First Cathedral. An enormous white cross sits atop the Cathedral’s roof, dominating the skyline as one approaches. To enter the building for graduations, students and their guests pass under another large cross in the Cathedral’s facade.
The Class of 2010 graduated from Enfield (Conn.) High School yesterday, and based on local reports, it seems as though students and parents had a good time, despite the controversy over where to hold the ceremony.
Earlier this week, Americans United and the American Civil Liberties Union celebrated a win for church-state separation when the last of five public schools in Connecticut agreed to move graduation from a church to a secular venue.
Happy New Year! After a break for the holidays, I'm back at work here at Americans United. And, as far as I know, it's back to school for kids across the country today, too.
In an effort to make everyone's lives easier in 2010 – including students, parents, teachers and school officials – we'd like to start things off by asking all public school staff to make this a constitutionally sound new year and resolve to uphold the wall of separation between church and state.