During a Texas public preschool’s “graduation” ceremony on May 31st, one teacher urged a student to say “In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
Amber Barnhill was a parent at that ceremony and she was surprised by what she heard. She didn’t want to make a big deal out of it — it was probably just an innocent mistake, right? So she decided to just chat with the teacher and let her know what the issue was:
replied “I’m sorry, but I cannot apologize for that”. She kept reiterating this line through the whole of our conversation. She also said “no one else had a problem with it” though clearly she did not ask everyone involved and “no one has ever said a word to me before about this”. I inserted the word “religion” to which she immediately cut me off with “oh it’s not a religion, it’s a way of life. It’s who I am” and elaborated on this.
The conversation just got more frustrating from there. In short, Amber was the voice of reason. The teacher was the voice of denial.
And then, the next day, the teacher sent the students home with a flyer for a local church.
That’s when the Freedom From Religion Foundation got involved. They sent a letter to the Beaumont Independent School District letting them know of the problem — and just like that, the issue appears to have been solved:
12News spoke with the teacher involved. The teacher admits to making a small prayer for the student to say but says she was just trying to give her students a mock graduation.
“I didn’t intend to impose, I just tried to mock a graduation. I did apologize to the lady who was the only one I found who was offended,” She told 12News.
The district say it will respond to the case following a thorough investigation. The teacher tells 12News she will not include prayers in any future programs.
Two quick lessons from all this: The teacher’s good intentions are no excuse for circumventing the law. Also, it makes no difference if one parent complains or 100 parents complain; if you’re doing something illegal, then it needs to stop.
Kudos to Amber for saying something about this instead of just letting it go.
By the way: Amber is a Christian.
Incidentally, this is the same school district where a principal shut down a cosmetology class last fall because one of the students “looked” gay. It’s also just a short drive away from the Kountze Independent School District, home of the Bible-banner cheerleaders.
(Thanks to Richard for the link!)
Songs and poems can be a great addition to your nursery school graduation ceremony, how to entertain and educate service to the listener. Some children are religious, very late in his life, so you may experience some resistance to the idea in the first instance. The Montessori system tells us that children are probably the way they were so, the family were introduced religious gestures of prayer will not be seen as a major areProblem. The key lies in the individuality of children to obtain asylum in the spiritual, you agree to never having to adopt a consistent approach to them.
It is expected that the parents tried to build their own personal values and family members of kindergarten children, that you take. Through this kind of thinking that we can reaffirm behavior patterns that keep the child living in their asylum. If you really want your children are inPrayer is better than you give them that value from the start rather than wait for kindergarten graduation and then unexpectedly amazing. If you do this, the school graduation ceremony itself is the only have a few hiccups.
It is the wise use of classical poetry in kindergarten graduation. Classical poetry is not appealing to many people, including adults. It is therefore reasonable to expect that youngkindergarten children will be happy in such an early stage. Kindergarten graduation and then calls for the use of local poetry, even in the dialect of the family, so do not ask their young minds with very serious issues. Those parents who did this before saying, if we are thrilled to join the children in creating poetry, tend to, and creates an atmosphere of informality, this is as ideal forKindergarten graduation ceremonies.
Because the theater is usually learned poetry by heart at this nursery is that children are rarely completely master the official language at that stage. Usually you can sing and say, repeating things, but when it comes to reading, there is still some time. Your teachers know that and so the songs and poems are always a key element in the education of children. You should follow the example of rentalso getting your children recite poems and songs kindergarten graduation ceremony.
During the preschool does not let it end, the children pray for all the hard work done by the recitation of poetry and reading. Because you’re an adult and you have more skills and experience as a young asylum. Energy, we can speak of a poem by your child a taste of what it should bedoes. I also suspect that your children are very happy to embarrass you see in all poems and songs to sing so that your reach is a pleasure. After all it is a party within the family, so you can afford to make mistakes.
A graduation ceremony at a Texas preschool that began with a prayer is drawing criticism from a group advocating for the separation of church and state.
The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation has filed a complaint with the Beaumont Independent School District over the May 13 ceremony, 12NewsNow.com reported.
The complaint was filed on behalf of Amber Barnhill, a parent who claims a teacher at Amelia Elementary opened the ceremony with a prayer and had the student leading it say, “in Jesus’ name, Amen.”
Barnhill told the station she approached the teacher after the ceremony with her concerns over the prayer and was offended by her repose.
“She said it was legal, freedom of speech. Not religion but her way of life. She said she could not allow herself to apologize,” Barnhill said.
The teacher, who was not identified in the report, told 12NewsNow.com she apologized to Barnhill and said the prayer was meant to give her students a realistic graduation experience.
“I didn’t intend to impose, I just tried to mock a graduation. I did apologize to the lady who was the only one I found who was offended,” the teacher told the station.
The district said it will respond to the organization’s complaint with an investigation, the station reported.
Click here for more from 12NewsNow.com.
When trying to determine your graduation format, several aspects must be taken into consideration. Where will the ceremony take place? Are you leading the program, or do you have a music teacher or other adult running it? What kind of theme would you like to follow? Will there be dancing and singing? Would you like to include a slide show? How will the children dress? Will you pass out diplomas or certificates? Will refreshments be served?
Each of these decisions puts a special mark on your preschool graduation. With thought and early preparation, the program can be a success.
Where is your graduation program going to take place? Is there adequate space in the classroom or do you need a multipurpose area or gym? Can you go off-campus? The size and location of the venue can determine what kinds of songs and/or dances your children will perform, and how refreshments will be served.
When choosing an on-campus location, find out when you will be able to practice and if you need to share the space with other classes. Then reserve a time slot for your program, allowing for arrivals and stragglers after the show.
If going off-campus, how will the children get there for practices? Will parents take children directly to that venue or will you transport them? Find out what kinds of permissions you need to receive and how your school’s insurance covers off-campus excursions.
Also when planning where to go and when to practice, make sure your program leader is able to join you at those times.
Choosing a Theme
Ideally, the preschool graduation theme should be reflective of what the children have studied throughout the year. For decorations, the children can share some of their best works and projects to hang on the walls or to display on the refreshments tables. Songs and dances can reflect favorite topics or the core themes of the year. Children’s dress for the program can also reflect the topic. An example of a topic would be “Frogs” and an example of a core theme could be “Multiculturalism/Around the World.”
Include a Slideshow
Parents love to see pictures of their children in action. Create a slide show that shows the children throughout the year. Show them doing different activities. Include them posing with their friends. Take one close-up shot of each child’s face. If the children have been with you for more than one year, include pictures of them at a younger age to show how much they have grown over the years.
Present photos in an old-fashioned matter by having them made into slides, then use a slide projector. Or, use programs on and offline, such as Slide.com or PowerPoint to create the slide show. Add accompanying music for guaranteed tears. Find some suggestions for music here.
This is a chance for children to wear their best clothes. Offer suggestions to parents about appropriate dress. If dancing is a part of the program, emphasize the need for comfortable shoes and clothing and explain why. Long skirts, suit jackets, and pants can tangle feet and arms during dances.
Some people like to have children create sashes for part of their costume. These sashes can represent the theme of the program, and should be made by the children with limited help from parents. Be clear on your expectations and provide pictures, if possible.
Will children wear graduation caps? If so, dancing will not be a good idea, as the caps easily fall off of heads. Make simple caps by cutting a square from poster board for the children to decorate. Tape it to a three-inch wide headband that sits snugly on the child’s head. Include a simple yarn tassel.
Order of Events
Think about an order of events for the preschool graduation. How will the children come in? Will they simply walk onto the stage or enter with a song as a processional? How will they stand? Keep taller children. If more than one class is participating, decide if they will be divided further by class or if they will behave better mixed up.
Think of the songs you are going to sing. The more active songs are better near the beginning. A dance works well soon following. Then, the songs should gradually get slower, to calm the children back down for the presentation of certificates and slide show. End on an emotional note.
If presenting certificates or graduation medals, do so at the end of the program. The longer the children have to stand holding them, the more likely they are to become crumpled.
Keep any adult speakers to a minimum. Have a teacher, or the administrator/principal give a short opening welcome, then a short summation at the end. Children are excited to perform and parents are excited to watch the performance.
Set a time limit of about 20-30 minutes for all songs and presentations, to maintain the children’s attention.
Create a simple event program to hand out prior to the performance. The cover should include the name of the performance and include a picture that reflects the theme. Inside, include any notes and acknowledgments from teachers and administration on the left side. To the right, list the order of events. Credit all composers and authors.
On the back, list all names of the “graduates” in alphabetical order. If combining more than one class in the program, decide if you want them listed all together, or divided by class.
Use fun paper found either at an office supply store or online. Include icons from clip art programs. Plain paper is boring, but it doesn’t have to be overly fancy.
Refreshments are often served following a graduation. Keep them simple and less messy by serving only finger foods. For beverages, use mini water bottles or juice boxes. Not only are these less messy, but also more sanitary, as children cannot dump punch back into the punchbowl when they decide they don’t like it.
Cut down on cost by having parents donate the food, drinks, and paper goods. Decide if everything should be store-bought, or if people can make things from home. This is influenced by school and venue policies, so check with administration.
Another option would be to have families meet up at a favorite ice cream parlor or other child-friendly venue following the ceremony. However, people are more likely to chat and congregate when they don’t have to leave right away.
Simplicity is Key
The key to determining the graduation format is to keep it simple. Parents are there to see their children and will love a more honest effort. Those little mishaps that make teachers cringe often go unnoticed by observers, and often make the show even more endearing.