Wednesday afternoon schoolchildren, teenagers, teachers and the community gathered at the lot on the corner of 4th and Small. The property is directly across the street from O’Donnell High School.
“They can send as many emails as they want to the school,” junior Abby Franklin said. “But the school can’t do anything about it and they can’t do anything about it.”
In September, officials from O’Donnell Independent School District said they received an email from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, an advocacy group from Wisconsin. The email asked the school to cover up a painting of the Ten Commandments on the school wall or they could face legal action.
The School Board held a community forum to discuss the issue, but ultimately decided they could not financially take on the burden of a lawsuit.
Students, like Franklin, were so outspoken about the controversy that adults in the community started to take notice.
“Just the fact that they would go to the trouble to do that, to express themselves,” Tommy Woolam said. “And it woke up the adults in the community, all of us, and it made us want to do what we are doing today.”
Woolam said without soliciting donations money started pouring in. He took that money and commissioned a 9 foot tall monument of the Ten Commandments. It was made by Mennonites from Seminole and he calls it a work of art.
Woolam estimated the monument to cost around $8,000 to $10,000. He said they have already paid for half the costs and donations keep rolling in from around the state. After paying off the monument, the community wants to start a Ten Commandments Scholarship fund.