Connecticut Schools May Drop Church Graduation

Two Connecticut high schools said they will consider moving graduation ceremonies from a church to a secular location after receiving a letter from Americans United and the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut. 

The letter asked officials at the Enfield School District to move the graduation ceremonies of two of its high schools from a cathedral, where it had previously held the ceremony. In November, AU and the ACLU also sent similar letters to public high schools in South Windsor, Windsor and East Hartford and the Metropolitan Learning Center Magnet School, all in Connecticut.

Alex Luchenitser, AU’s senior litigation counsel, said public schools violate church-state separation when they hold graduation ceremonies in churches. It sends a message to those who have different religions, or no religion at all, that they are “outsiders,” he said.

Luchenitser said the issue over church graduation is not unique to Connecticut, and that AU has been trying to resolve the problem in high schools in other parts of the country.

Enfield’s school board has set up a committee to find a new location for the graduations. Superintendent John Gallacher said he hoped the committee would have options ready so the board could make an official decision Jan. 26.

South Windsor already informed AU and the ACLU that it has moved its graduation ceremonies to the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford.