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Cranston School Will Not Appeal Ruling To Take Down Prayer Banner

By Jim Armstrong, WBZ-TV
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Jessica Ahlquist challenged the prayer banner in Cranston High School West.

Jessica Ahlquist challenged the prayer banner in Cranston High School West.

WBZ-TV's Jim Armstrong Jim Armstrong
Jim Armstrong is an Emmy-award winning reporter who joined WBZ-TV in...
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CRANSTON, R.I. (CBS) – A huge crowd packed Cranston High School West, angry over a ruling which forced the city to take down a prayer banner that’s been up in the school for decades.

A federal judge already ruled the prayer banner has to be taken down, but in the end, it came down to a battle between faith and money.

Early on it looked like Thursday night’s public hearing was going to go the way of those before it: A rabid shout fest.

WBZ-TV’s Jim Armstrong reports

The crowd was heavily in favor of appealing a federal court’s decision ordering the school district to remove the prayer mural with religious wording.

The banner was a gift from the class of 1964.

It begins with, “Our Heavenly Father…” and asks students to be good scholars and community leaders.

The school argued that the banner was part of the history of the school.

But once the argument was framed in economic terms, even pro-banner speakers changed their tune.

School officials estimated that an appeal to the 1st Circuit Court in Boston and maybe eventually the Supreme Court could cost the city up to $500,000.

After two hours of public hearings, the Cranston School Committee voted 5-2 against an appeal.

Quietly in the back row the whole time sat Jessica Ahlquist, the 16-year-old high school junior who first challenged the banner’s constitutionality. Ahlquist has been the target of online threats and was briefly escorted by police while at school.

“I’m really pleased with the decision,” Ahlquist said after the vote. “It’s obviously the decision I wanted the School Committee to make and I’m thrilled.”

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