TRUSSVILLE, ALA. – Public high school students praised God, Jesus and Carrie Prejean during Robert E. Lee High School’s 2009 commencement ceremonies Friday night.
While 143 high school students sat in plastic chairs arranged to spell out “2009” on the football field, administrators and speakers reminded the audience, most of whom attend the same church, of their obligations.
“Go forth and spread the word of Jesus,” principal Jean Brennan proclaimed. “We have raised you in the word of God, now go do us and your Lord and Savior proud.”
The ceremony was held in the same stadium where football games were played, and where prayers were given over the loudspeaker before each game’s coin toss.
Valedictorian Eric Parrish thanked God numerous times while addressing his classmates.
“Oh Father God, we are so indebted to you today, for bringing us to this day,” drawled Parrish, who obtained a full scholarship to Bob Jones University. “We know we have all arrived here because of you, and because good things come to those who love the Lord.”
At that moment, a woman in the stands burst into tears, then quickly rushed out of the stadium. She was later identified as the mother of Jason Hughes, who was killed in a March car wreck.
One by one, students walked through the humid Southern night to accept their diploma and shake hands with each member of the school board. That included Sally Piper, who proudly presented each graduate with a green Gideons New Testament.
While a vote had been taken to decide the song that would represent the class in the annals of Lee High history, the Christian song “I Can Only Imagine” instead blared out over the loudspeakers, pissing off five students and making 27 others slightly uncomfortable for reasons they couldn’t quite pin down.
Meanwhile, graduate Ian Owens could only imagine taking Eric Parrish from behind. He would later go on to college and choose to be gay, as would 19 of his classmates. Seventeen others became atheists, 32 started declaring themselves “spiritual but not religious,” and 5 became Unitarian Universalists. None of the above are expected to garner invites to the big class reunion that will take place in the clouds of Heaven following the Rapture.