Seth Clark, an eighth grad salutatorian, wasn’t allowed to give his speech. The school wouldn’t allow it because it contained the word “God,” Bible verses, and Clark’s confession of his Christian faith.
Becky Clark, Seth’s mother, said the speech had been “on his heart.”
The school made the decision after receiving a complaint.
“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,” the school’s Superintendent Kelly Clark told the Benton Evening News.
“As a public school, it is our duty to educate students, regardless of how different they or their beliefs may be,” she said.
Fortunately, Clark was able to give the speech at a family friend’s house across the street from the school.
He used the majority of it to give God glory and thanks.
“I’d like to thank God for all the amazing people and experiences I’ve had in life. He’s placed so many friends in my life and an amazing family,” said Clark.
“He’s forgiven me when I sin and fail to follow Jesus. There is so much God has done for me that I haven’t mentioned… I am far from perfect, but as quoted in 1 Peter 16, ‘Be holy as I am holy.'”
“This is what I strive for: to be holy as God is holy. But, because I am human, I have failed and will fail against others. This is why I apologize,” he added.
“He is more courageous at the age of 13 than I am at the age of 43,” said Becky Clark. “It was the proudest moment of my life.”