“During school functions all throughout my education, we always said a prayer,” Avila said.
Avila said she made an extra effort to accommodate all students’ beliefs, which meant they could pray to whomever they wanted, or not pray at all.
“I know all of my classmates do not believe in the same beliefs as my beliefs,” said Avila. “I tried to ask people to reflect, as I said the prayer.”
An activist group threatened to sue the school for having an invocation and a benediction. By tradition, students voted to have or exclude prayer. But in light of the threat of a lawsuit - and with less than a month to go before graduation - ECISD announced an opening and closing statement would replace the invocation and benediction.
Students were not deterred by the talk of litigation. Not only was there a student prayer on stage during the opening statement, there was also one in the closing.
“I was glad that the opening and closing statements included a prayer,” Valedictorian Ryan Morton said. “I very much understand why it could not be called an invocation and benediction.”
“We were able to follow school policy and pray at the same time. So, it just worked out,” he said.