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Archive for Sunday, February 15, 2004

Trio sends flowers, Bible verse to classmates

February 15, 2004

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— Three Shawnee Mission West High School boys who gave roses along with notes containing a biblical verse to 971 female classmates had the law on their side, the Shawnee Mission school district says.

District spokeswoman Leigh Anne Neal said that after the boys came up with the idea, school officials talked to a district lawyer about the notes to see whether they violated the separation of church and state.

"The school district's understanding is that this is an issue of freedom of speech," Neal said.

The three boys, whom district officials did not identify, each signed their first name and last initial on the notes. The boys gave the girls the Valentine's Day roses Friday. Male students did not receive roses or Bible verses.

For senior Christina Kuhn, it was the thought that counted.

"When I first got it I was like 'What is this?' I had no idea," Kuhn said. "Some people thought it was inappropriate, but I didn't feel that way."

The verse, Romans 3:22, was handwritten and affixed to each rose: "We are all made right in God's spirit when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins and we all can be saved in the same way no matter who we are or what we have done."

Neal said the school was not endorsing or advocating a specific religion.

"We hope that students (and parents) will understand that there is a diversity of opinions and this is one individual's opinion," she said. "Certainly, if there are concerns, they will have the opportunity to express those concerns to the building administration."

The three boys bought the flowers from DECA, a club that teaches entrepreneurship and leadership skills. The club received almost $1,500 from the boys, who shoveled snow and did other tasks to raise the money, said math teacher Jan Berghaus.

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