Santa Rosa County, FL – Nearly 400 graduating seniors at Pace High School stood up in protest against the ACLU and recited the Lord’s Prayer during their graduation ceremony on Saturday. Many of the students also painted crosses on their graduation caps to make a statement of faith. This event follows a lawsuit the ACLU filed against the Santa Rosa County School District, claiming some of the teachers and administration endorsed religion. Liberty Counsel represents Pace High School Principal Frank Lay and school teacher Michelle Winkler.
The graduation prayer protest by the students was preceded by a lawsuit filed six months ago by the ACLU. The school district entered into a consent decree, which essentially bans all Santa Rosa County School District employees from engaging in prayer or religious activities. The ACLU alleges that during a dinner event held at Pace High School, Principal Lay asked the athletic director to bless the meal. In another incident, the ACLU alleges that Michelle Winkler’s husband, who is not a school board employee, offered prayer at an awards ceremony. Leading up to the graduation ceremony, the ACLU demanded the school to censor students from offering prayers or saying anything religious. The ACLU then charged Principal Lay and Ms. Winkler with contempt of court.