WOODSTOCK, Ga. — A graduation controversy in Cherokee County won’t be settled, at least for now.A group wants Cherokee County to stop holding graduations at a church.But the school system said it’s the only location large enough and that finding another venue would cost thousands of dollars.
Channel 2 Action News reporter Tony Thomas attended a school board meeting Thursday night where both sides expressed opinions.“It’s more of a venue than it is a church,” said student Koby Smith.For the past several years, all Cherokee County high schools have held their graduations at First Baptist Woodstock. It’s cheap and holds more than 6,000 people. But now convenience is clashing with a potential court battle.Washington, D.C.-based group Americans United for the Separation of Church and State is threatening to sue the school district if this year’s graduation ceremonies are held in the massive church.Jessica Serrand agrees with the group. She graduated from Sequoya High School last year and skipped her ceremony because of the location.“Because I just couldn’t go with the huge cross behind me,” said Serrand.
The Serrand family and their rabbi appeared to be in the vast minority at the meeting. The district’s lawyer insists there is no other venue big enough in or near Cherokee County. The church only charges the district $2,000. Cobb Energy Center, by comparison, would cost $40,000.“We as a community should not allow an outside group to intimidate us,” said parent Greg Nixon.No one left happy Thursday night.
The school board delayed any decision until next month, when three new board members will come on board.