West Branch finds way to satisfy praying fans after complaint

The West Branch superintendent said this decision isn't final, but will help satisfy what they want to do while exploring all of their options

Prayer before West Branch games

BELOIT, Ohio (WYTV) – For the last 30 years, all home pregame ceremonies at West Branch High School included the singing of the National Anthem and a prayer from a local pastor. But on Friday night, the school took a different approach.

Once the buzzer sounded, West Branch fans sitting on both sides of the basketball court stood up in anticipation of what would happen next.

“Please remain standing for a moment of silence, reflection, prayer or meditation.”

It was a moment many were worried they wouldn’t see happen. Over 100 people packed the gym in black and green shirts that read, “Prayer Matters.”

“We just wanted to make a statement that prayer truly matters to us, as a community, in the West Branch School System,” a community member said.

Another said prayer speaks close to their hearts.

“A lot of people are saying that we just value the tradition and not the prayer, and that’s not the case at all. A lot of people around here really do appreciate the prayer.”

Superintendent Tim Saxton said over the last 24 hours, the school worked closely with its board of council, board of education, students, parents and teachers to reach a decision. That resulted in a moment of silence before the varsity game.

Saxton said this decision isn’t final, but will help satisfy what they want to do while exploring all of their options in respect to the law, board policy and the deeply-rooted faith within the community.

Once the moment of silence ended, everyone in the gym clapped and cheered in support of the move. Many people said they are glad their school is finding a way to stand up for their beliefs, while also including everyone in the practice.

Saxton said he hopes the students take a lesson away from this about standing up for your beliefs while being sure to take others into consideration.