Cherokee School Board votes unanimously to keep graduation at First Baptist Church of Woodstock.
Rick Steiner speaks on behalf of a father in Iraq who was able to see his son graduate because of the video streaming.
"If this was a matter of church, it would be illegal to build a school next to a church because you would see a cross on your way to school," Tom Roach said.
School board attorney Tom Roach is addressing the board and audience as several other people are allowed to enter the room.
"I'm very proud that all the discussions and all the speakers have made this a matter of space, this is a matter of being pragmatic" Roach said.
Chapman recounts the time he handed his son his diploma on the FBCW stage and said he would not deny any parent or family member of seeing his or her child graduate.
School board member Ms. Cochran also suggested that all board members vote to keep the graduation at FBCW.
Cherokee County Superintendent just suggested that all members vote to keep the graduation at First Baptist Church of Woodstock.
The largest venue on the list was the FBCW which holds 7,500 and would cost $2,800 per school. The second largest venue on the list is the Verizon Amphitheatre which holds 7,000 and would $14,000 per school.
School board members are reading the alternative list of venues that are available should the board vote "no." The handout includes the following venues: Cobb Energy Center, Cherokee Northside Conference Center, Verizon Amphitheater, Falany Performing Arts Center, KSU Convocation Center, and FBCW.
Cherokee Tea Party Patriots throw support behind a "yes" vote by the school board.
The Tea Party representative states that he is Jewish and is discussing the issue as a Jewish citizen. In the past years, his synagogue was going through reconstruction and held several religious ceremonies at the Transfiguration Church.
"I didn't feel the need to convert when I walked in that building."
A Canton High graduate, who graduated on the auditorium stage in the old Canton High School, speaks on the issue: "Every persons rights must be protected."
He suggests that those students who do not wish to graduate in the church should come to the auditorium and graduate in a separate ceremony.
One mother asks "How can we be under the influence of the cross to vote, but not under the influence of the cross to graduate?" referring to voting locations that are held in churches.
Cherokee senior representative of the student body said that the students of Cherokee are for keeping the graduation in the church.
"Surely they (the founding fathers) had no intention on preventing a school board for renting a building."
The third adult to speak asks why they cannot vote as a community.
Woodstock senior describes those in attendance as similar to the Marines as they are "the few, the proud." He is a JROTC member, and brings up the fact that he has already sent out invitations for graduation.
One Creekview senior brings up the issue that the previous swearing in of new board members required that they put their hand on the Bible. Also, she said that all schools hold churches in them on the weekend.
One Creekview senior explains that her family is split--Christian and Jewish--and those religious views should be put aside for one day.
"On graduation we should be thinking about graduation and not religious issues. We're America, we should be happy we're graduating. We should be happy we're graduating and we should be able to have everyone we want to be there."
Seniors from Etowah and Creekview explain why it's important to graduate from First Baptist Woodstock stating that it is a tradition, rather than a religious affiliation that makes them want to graduate at the church.
Cherokee County Parents Against Moving Graduation and HUSH--a group of more than 1,500 parents-- sent two representatives to speak first.
Speakers bring up the issue of family attendance and the availability for parents serving overseas to see their children graduate.
These two groups have decided to financially support the school board should they decide to vote yes and have to pay legal fees.
They received a standing ovation for their petition.
First speaker threatened to be removed after trying to discuss a matter of what he calls "public safety" but appeared to be directed toward the recent arrest of Mike McGowan.
Several board members stopped the speaker saying that this was a direct reflection of the recent matter and that it was against policy to discuss personnel during a public forum.
Students show their opinions early in the meeting by shouting "under God" during the opening Pledge of Allegiance.
Rick Steiner elected board chair.
There is a group of about 20 on one side of the auditorium and another group on the other side that are being denied access to the meeting. Both groups are growing.
Police officers have closed the door to the meeting with a group of people left in the hall. No word yet on why they are not being admitted. While the seats are filled, there is still plenty of standing room in the auditorium.
Meeting has come to order to a packed house. New members being sworn in. The graduation issue is set as letter H on the agenda.
Only standing room with 15 minutes left before the meeting starts.
More than half of the school board auditorium is full with 30 minutes left before the meeting starts. Security guards have agreed to let people start coming into the auditorium although the work session has not concluded. Most of the audience appears to be high school students.
The sign up list is outside the entrance to the auditorium. Those wishing to speak at the meeting concerning the future location of graduation should sign up on the blue sheet before entering.
The parking lot outside the Cherokee County School Board meeting room is starting to fill up with a little more than an hour left before the meeting begins. Rumors have been circulating that churches have been encouraging all of their members to show up at this meeting and that more than 100 people have signed up to speak at the open forum.