Graduation was supposed to be a joyous time for Sam Blackledge, but the valedictorian of West Prairie High School in Sciota, Illinois, said the experience left him feeling awful.
“I never felt that feeling before,” he told Fox News. “It was terrible. I felt like I wanted to cry.”
For months, the 18-year-old said he planned to reference his love of Jesus and his Christian faith during a graduation speech to the few dozen members of the Class of 2018. Blackledge turned in his speech to school administrators the day of graduation, he told KFVS12, but administrators told him he had to remove all religious references just ten minutes before he was set to deliver the remarks.
Blackledge said he wanted to mention God because faith is a crucial part of his identity — and he didn’t care if others were offended.
“There’s always people out there that will go against what I have to say, and nobody always agrees, but I believe this is the truth,” he said in an interview with KFVS12. “It’s impacted my life, and I wanted to share the hope of Christ with others.”