Friday, May 31, 2013

KY: High school graduation includes prayer over student objections

A Kentucky high school continued its tradition of having a student lead a prayer during graduation ceremonies, despite objections by at least six students.

Jonathan Hardwick, Class of 2013 president at Lincoln County High School in Stanford, was given a standing ovation after he delivered a prayer during Friday’s commencement, the Advocate-Messenger reported.

A video of Hardwick’s prayer quickly hit social media websites such as YouTube and Topix, according to the paper, with most online comments supporting Hardwick’s decision.

“Thank you for helping us get here safely today, Lord, and thank you for the many blessings you have given us,” Hardwick said as part of the prayer.

Lincoln High Principal Tim Godbey, in an interview with the paper, acknowledged that six students — including at least one atheist — had asked him not to allow a student-led prayer as part of the school’s graduation ceremony.

Godbey, who is Christian, said under separation of church and state laws, faculty members have never been able to pray publicly on school grounds or during school-sponsored functions.

He noted, however, that the U.S. Constitution does not prohibit students from praying as long as they are not disruptive.

Ricky Smith, an atheist who has been lobbying for a “moment of silence” to replace prayer during government meetings in the area, told the paper he intends to notify the American Civil Liberties Union and the Freedom from Religion Foundation about Lincoln’s public prayer, which he feels violated the civil rights of students who are not Christians.


6-Year-Old Given Detention, Forced to Apologize After Bringing  Seriously Tiny Plastic Gun on School Bus‏

A 6-year-old kindergarten student in Massachusetts is accused of causing a “disturbance” and “traumatizing” other students by bringing a very tiny plastic toy gun on the school bus last week.

The “gun” brandished by the young boy was barely bigger than a quarter.

The child’s mother, Mieke Crane, told WGGB-TV that school officials at Old Mill Pond Elementary in Palmer, Mass., seriously overreacted after another student saw the toy and told the bus driver on Friday.

The driver said the 6-year-old “caused quite a disturbance” and left other children “traumatized,” according to Crane.

The kindergartener has been forced to write an apology letter to the bus driver. He was also given detention on Tuesday and may temporarily lose his bus riding privileges.

“I could see if it was, you know, an Airsoft gun or some sort of pistol or live bullets or something. This is just a toy,” the stunned mother said.

Additionally, the boy who reportedly yelled about the toy gun on the bus has also been forced to apologize.

Crane said her son did not equate the extremely small plastic toy gun with an actual firearm or weapon.  “At 6 years old, I don’t really think he understood the zero tolerance policy and related it to this as the same,” she added.

This is hardly the first instance of young students being taught that anything resembling a gun is bad.

In April, TheBlaze first reported that a New York father had his pistol license revoked after his son and two of his classmates talked about going to a boy’s house with a water gun, “paint gun” and a BB gun. School officials called police and apparently felt they had enough cause to revoke John Mayer’s handgun license.

In March, a 7-year-old boy was suspended from school for chewing a breakfast pastry into a shape that somewhat resembled a gun. The boy maintained he didn’t mean to make his food look like a gun.

In January, a Philadelphia fifth-grader was scolded and even searched in front of her entire class for pulling out a piece of paper that was torn into a gun-like shape. A school administrator reportedly yelled at her while other students called her a “murderer.”

Also in January, a 5-year-old girl was suspended for ten days and reportedly labeled a “terrorist threat” for threatening to shoot her friend with a toy bubble gun.

And the list goes on and on.


Two in three British pupils fear university costs: They worry about living expenses and not being able to earn while studying

Two-thirds of children are worried about the cost of going to university even though they think it will help them ‘get on in life’, a new survey has revealed.

They are concerned about living expenses and not being able to earn while they study while those from middle-class backgrounds are most troubled by £9,000-a-year tuition fees.

The Ipsos MORI poll for the Sutton Trust surveyed 2,595 11 to 16-year-olds.

It classified them as being in families of high, medium or low affluence based on questions about their households.

It found that students from the least affluent families (23 per cent) were more likely to cite cost as the biggest consideration when deciding whether to go onto higher education than their richer counterparts (14 per cent).

However, middle-class youngsters - who miss out on means tested maintenance grants - are most affected by tuition fees (30 per cent) when worrying about all the costs.

This compared to 28 per cent of rich students and 26 per cent of poorer ones who agreed that fees were the ‘biggest concern’.

Overall, 65 per cent of students surveyed were worried about university finances - 28 per cent cited tuition fees; 19 per cent, the cost of living and 18 per cent, not earning while studying.

Only seven per cent said they were not troubled by the cost of going to university.

Thirty eight per cent of young people said they were ‘very likely’ to go to university and 43 per cent ‘fairly likely’.

A higher proportion of black and minority ethnic students (49 per cent) said they were likely to go to university than white students (35 per cent).

Of those who were unlikely to go into higher education, 57 per cent cited financial considerations and 49 per cent said they would prefer to do something more practical.

However 86 per cent said going to university was important in ‘helping people do well and get on in life’, with 43 per cent rating it ‘very important’.

Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust and the Education Endowment Foundation, said: ‘It is clear from this poll that many young people remain worried about the cost of higher education.

‘Graduates face debts of over £40,000 with the higher fees and many will be paying for their university studies into their fifties.

‘We are urging the Government to means test university fees, as used to be the case, so that those from low and middle income families pay less for tuition.’

Means-testing ended in 2006 when variable fees of up to £3,000-a-year were introduced.

Those with household incomes below £42,611 can currently apply for means-tested maintenance grants.

Michael MacNeil, head of higher education at the University and College Union (UCU), said: ‘We need our brightest young people aspiring to university and the courses best suited to their talents. Worryingly the biggest barrier is the increased cost of a degree.

‘Ministers need to move on from looking at how to squeeze more money out of students and look at the damage the increased cost of going to university is already having.’


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