By: Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News
September 16, 2019
LOWNDES COUNTY, Ga. (WCTV) -- The Lowndes County Schools Board of Education announced a new policy for student-led prayers before Friday football games.
On Monday, the Board of Education had its first reading of a new policy allowing students to lead a prayer before the football games. The new policy comes after administration did not allow the prayer at the team's last home game on September 6, an omission that left many students and fans upset.
The new policy allows students to present anything before the game, from a song to a poem or a prayer. It was introduced to a crowded board room Monday as parents, fans and alumni cheered and praised the board's decision.
"What message do you want Lowndes County, and most importantly these students to learn from your decision, and you voiced overwhelmingly the right one," said Darrel Presley, President of the Vikings Touchdown Club.
Board Chairman Dave Clark said they understand the community concern, but its top priority is making sure the policy is following the laws.
"We knew coming in after our meeting last week that we had to put some work on it, because our constituents were not going to let us say no way," Clark said.
Earlier this month the district was contacted by The Freedom From Religion Foundation asking administration to omit the student-led prayer. Lowndes County Schools Attorney Warren Turner said the non-profit received a complaint from a parent. At his advice, administration did not hold a prayer at the September 6 home game to allow staff time to make a decision.
After the week of community backlash that followed, many parents and fans spoke out saying they're proud of the board's decision and new policy to allow the prayer.
"God won," said Joe Copeland. "That was the whole plan all along, I think it's awesome that we've got kids in school that want to pray to God and attend church."
The school board will have its second reading of the policy next month, but the board said the students will have the option to pray at this Friday's home game.
The policy states the students will be chosen by administration at the high school based on academics and program. It'll then be up to the student if they want to say a prayer or not.