This High School Principal Initially Rejected an Atheist Club, but He Deserves Praise for How He Handled the Situation

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: A high school student wants to form an atheist club. The administration tells him no.

Often, this ends in one of two ways: The student backs down, not wanting to get in any trouble, or the student informs a group like the Secular Student Alliance and it begins a long drawn-out battle (see: Pisgah High School).

But at Central High School in Aberdeen, South Dakota, there was a happy ending.

Adam, a student at the school, was told by Principal Jason Uttermark a few weeks ago that he couldn’t form an atheist club because the district had a policy against allowing any sort of religious club. After Adam informed the SSA about this, they contacted the principal:

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This Is the Real Reason an Atheist Club Isn’t Forming at Pisgah High School

I spent most of Friday afternoon speaking to multiple people involved with the Pisgah High School saga and you won’t believe what’s happening there now… I thought the story ended after I wrote my last post about it, but there’s so much more to it. And it’s nasty stuff.

First, a quick recap:

Earlier this year, student Ben Wilson attempted to begin an atheist group at the Canton, North Carolina school and claimed a school official told him he should just try joining a different club because this one wouldn’t “fit in” with the community. The Secular Student Alliance sent a letter to the school on his behalf, stating that the school had to allow the group to form, but no response was sent back.

Ben left the school after first semester, so his sister Kalei (pronounced KAY-lee) decided to continue what he started… and she was also denied. That’s when the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the state’s ACLU got involved, sending a letter of their own. The school quickly agreed to allow the club to form after that.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="300"]Kalei Wilson[/caption]

Almost immediately, students expressed interest in joining the club and two faculty members offered to be the club’s sponsors.

But Kalei made it clear last week that the club would not be forming after a series of threats and verbal attacks.

That gets us up to speed. As I said, I thought the story ended there. It wasn’t a happy ending but I couldn’t blame Kalei for her decision. If I were receiving threats and feeling picked on at school, I’d probably do the same thing. But I had to admit it was an abrupt 180 from a student who had already shown an incredible amount of courage…

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After Long Battle to Form High School Atheist Group, Student Bows Out After ‘Numerous Threats’ and ‘Verbal Attacks’

Over the last month, I wrote a few posts about how administrators at Pisgah High School in Canton, North Carolina were refusing to allow the formation of an atheist club run by 15-year-old Kalei Wilson (pronounced KAY-lee). They caved in days later, presumably from all the bad publicity:

It took letters from both the Secular Student Alliance and the Freedom From Religion Foundation (along with the ACLU of North Carolina) to convince school officials to change their minds.

The last time I spoke to Kalei, she told me she would be meeting with her principal to discuss the process of forming the group. Nearly a dozen students had expressed interest in joining the club and a couple of faculty members told her they would be glad to sponsor it.

But that all came to a halt yesterday.

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High School Atheist Activist Accepts Scholarship from Camp Quest South Carolina

On the heels of the awesome news about Kalei Wilson and Pisgah High School’s newly-formed Secular Student Alliance affiliate, Camp Quest South Carolina (CQSC), which also serves North Carolina and Georgia, has offered Kalei a full campership for her brave work.



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Two Updates About the Newly-Formed Atheist Group at Pisgah High School

There are two awesome updates to share regarding the just-approved atheist group at Pisgah High School in Canton, North Carolina:



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