Sam Blackledge had worked hard on his valedictorian address. He had written a wonderful speech declaring to his teachers and classmates that he is a follower of Jesus Christ.
But administrators at West Prairie High School in Illinois would not let the 18-year-old deliver that speech – because the content was not appropriate for a high school graduation ceremony.
He was summoned to the principal’s office just a few hours before the ceremony – where school and district administrator’s delivered their ruling.
“They said they didn’t want to make it a religious ceremony,” Sam told me in a telephone interview. “They told me that if I took out Christ I could say everything else.”
The young man with the 4.0 grade point average pleaded his case – explaining that he only wanted to convey to the audience about how his personal relationship with Christ had impacted his life.
“The principal told me it wasn’t appropriate for the setting,” Sam told me.
School leaders then said they feared those in the audience might think Sam was speaking on behalf of the school district.