Complaint from outside group halts student opera performance - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Complaint from outside group halts student opera performance

An opera students have worked almost a year to perform has been put on hold. (Source: WOIO) An opera students have worked almost a year to perform has been put on hold. (Source: WOIO)
WILLOUGHBY, OH (WOIO) - Willoughby South High School offers a wide range of activities for its students, but a group called Americans United for the Separation of Church and State has put one student event on hold.  

The opera by Ola Gjeilo is about the journey from darkness into light and overcoming. There is a religious undertone, but it certainly doesn't promote any religion.  

Students, like art director Anna Bolek, had been working on performing the opera for 11 months. 

"It was hard to see everybody's hard work to go waste," said Bolek.

It seems one student objected to its content, so he was told to do an alternate project, but that wasn't good enough.  

The Americans United group was contacted, and a letter was sent to the district Thursday, a day before the first performance. Then lawyers got involved. 

"They were able to give us a fairly quick opinion to advise us to postpone the opera for this weekend to allow more time to look into it," explained Assistant Superintendent Charles Murphy.

The bottom line is this outside group and one student are forcing the majority to ignore the stage tradition of "the show must go on."  

It is upsetting to student Rachael Thompson. 

"I think that it's insane. I think if you don't like it, don't be a part of it. You don't have to ruin it for everybody else. I mean, because a lot of people were so excited about this," said Thompson.

The legal issue is over the establishment clause of the constitution, dictating that government not establish a religion.  

The performance is not canceled, just postponed until a legal opinion is confirmed, leaving students stuck in the middle.

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