Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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October 11, 2011

MCBOE must vote on PVHS graduation location

PRINCETON — Members of the Mercer County Board of Education were still waiting Monday to hear from the American Civil Liberties Union regarding the school system’s Bible in the School program, and the board will vote today on PikeView High School’s venue for graduation, the Princeton Church of God.

In late September, the American Civil Liberties Union requested information from the board about the Bible in the Schools program. It is a voluntary program, funded by private donations, that teaches the Bible as literature. Superinten-dent Deborah Akers said the board has not heard back from the ACLU, and there was no timetable for a reply.

The school board provided information to the ACLU when it was requested, Greg Prudich, board president, said when the request was made.

Prudich said that he was confident that the classes were being taught within constitutional guidelines.

Board members are scheduled today to vote about whether to grant the request of PikeView High School students to have their graduation at a Princeton church. Akers said Monday that she had not received any emails concerning objections to using the church for graduation ceremonies.

PikeView High School seniors have voted to conduct their graduation at a local church, the Princeton Church of God off Oakvale Road near Princeton. Principal Ben Disibbio said Monday that 138 out of 149 seniors voted to have their graduation at the church. The Chuck Mathena Center, Hunnicutt Stadium, and PikeView High School’s football field were among the other choices.

The church, a former Lowe’s department store, has been used for teacher seminars and other board of education functions, Akers said. How many seats are available helps determine how many guests the graduates can invite.

“Certainly there’s more seating at that location than other locations,” Akers said. “There are more parking locations and it is an air conditioned facility.”

Gene Bailey, a member of the board of education, said the church had a big screen television system that is used during the ceremonies and a more comfortable seating capacity than other facilities. The board of education has used the church’s fellowship room for some meetings.  Air conditioning is another reason for using the facility for graduation ceremonies.

“Sometimes on June 1 and 2, it gets hot,” Bailey said. “And there is so much parking on the level for those of us who have trouble getting around.”

“At the school level, they always let the students vote on where they want to have their graduation,” Akers said Monday. “That will be the information provided to the board tomorrow.”

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