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THE GRAMMAR SCHOOL., Auckland Star, Volume XL, Issue 73, 26 March 1909
THE GRAMMAR SCHOOL.
■OPENING PRAYER OBJECTED TO. ." PROTEST SENT TO THE BOARD. THE PRAYER AUTHORISED. The action of the BcVrd of Governors of the Auckland Grammar School, in agreeing to opening each day's -work- with prayer, was the subject of a protest which was dealt with by a meeting of the Grammar School Board yesterday afternoon, when a petition was read, signed: by Messrs. F. E. Baume, M.P.,P. M. Mackay (chairman of the City Schools Committee), i>. Goldie, and Robert F&rrell, which contained the following clause:— respectfully request that you will be good enough to inform us as to" the full facts of the case with Tegard to opening the school with prayer. If such proceedings are now in force in the Grammar School, have they been approved of by the Board?" Mr. A. J. Mahone also wrote, asking, "Who is responsible for the opening of the Grammar and Girls' High Schools By prayer and religious instruction, (as' reported), to which I strongly object?" There were present at the meeting: The Hon. Sir G. M. OTlorke (chairman), ProfessoT P, Professor A. P. W. ■Thomas, Br. Roberton, Mr. L, J. Bagnall, Mr. Alfred Kidd, and also Mr. Tibbs and Miss Whitelaw. The Chairman said he had asked the headmaster of tie Grammar School =ad the headmistress of the girls' school to be present, so as to learn from them how the schools had been affected by being opened by prayer? The Chairman then asked Mr. Tibbs. "Has the school teen in any way unsatisfactorily affected iby the system adopted by opening each day with prayer?" Mr. Tibbs: "No." Chairman: "Any objections from masters or boys ?" Mr. Tibhs: "No." Dr. Roberton: "Have there been any protests from parents of scholars?" Mr. Tibbs: "Not a word." Mr. Bagnall stated that at the previous meeting Mr. Tibbs explained that every Grammar and High School throughout the Dominion was opened in a similar manner, and it was thought by the Board to be the proper thing to adopt the same practice at the Auckland Grammar schools. .Mr. A. Kidd asked to be informed •what was .the form of prayer used? He ■remarked, that he was not present when it was submitted to the Board. Mr. Tibbs: "A short passage of scripture is read, then the Lord's Prayer is recited, followed by the short school prayer that the Board has authorised." ilr. Kidd: "Has there been any objection from parents?'' ■Xlr. Tibbs: None whatever. Hγ. C. J. Parr, having arrived a little late, asked: "What is the nature of the religious service?" Mr. Tibbs: You cannot call it a religious service. Mr. 'Parr: What does it amount to? Mr. Tibbs: The- "prayers," I should , prefer to call it." He .then repeated the form. The chairman: 'And there has been no, objection from either pupil or parent? Mr. Parr: What is the practice in the South? Mr. Tibbs: The same as "we are doing. Mr. Hogbsn, when he first visited the Auckland Grammar School, was very much surprised that we did not open •with prayer, the same as .the other, schools. Mr. Eidd: Are we to understand that prayers are general in the other secondary schools? ■Mr. Tibbs: There are only two others in the Dominion that dp not open with prayers. One is the Thames -High School. iWhen I was in the South I asked headmasters about the matter, and they were very milch surprised that the Grammar School in Auckland had not been opened with prayers. I may say I was equally surprised when I came nere, because in all my experience I never before knew a school like ours opened without prayers. Chairman: Are you in favour of the continuance of the system of opening with prayers? Mr. Tibbs: Most undoubtedly. , ' Are the other masters also of that- - opinion? • . Those are who have spoken to mc on the •subject. I feel sure that the boye. and also .their parents, are in favour of opening school -with prayers. ' - Mr. Kidd: I suppose, then, no one has left the school on account of the prayers? Mr. Tibbs: No! And no one 'has asked fo be excused from attending prayers. Mr. L. J. Bagnall: There was a condition linked with authorising prayers, that anyone objecting should be excused from attendance a* prayers. The chairman: Yes, there was the proviso to exempt any pupil whose parents objected. Miss Wbitelaw, headmistress of the Girls' School, when asked by the chairman the effect on the school of opening with prayer, said: "I have seven exemptions—six Jewesses and one Roman Catholic. All the rest attended prayers, and there were no objections from parents of pupils." Chairman: "What is, the number attending the school ?" Miss Whitelaw: "Two hundred and eighty-five." Chairman: "And only seven objections." Miss Whitelaw: "There are one or two Roman Catholic girls at the schools who do come to prayers." Dr. Roberton: "Did the objection come from the parents or the children?" Miss Whitelaw: "From the children at first, and then they were supported by their parents." Dr. Roberton asked what course ,ras adopted at the Girls' School. Miss Whitelaw replied: "I give out the number of a hymn, which we sing; then we read a passage of Scripture, and repeat the Lord's Prayer." ' Professor Thomas: "Are those hymns -carefully chosen to avoid doctrinal points ?" Miss Whitelaw: "I had a book from '!London. I will bring, it, down for you to see. It was published for use in undenominational schools at Home." Professor Thomas: "It would be possible to get some doctrine into a hymn, but it should also be possible to get a good selection. I am content to take Miss .Whitelaw's assurance that due care is exercised." - Professor Brown: "How long do'these proceedings take?" Miss Whitelaw: "About sis to eight minutes." Mr Kidd: "The objections seem-to have been from the Jews in your school. Is there anything in the prayer they object to?" Miss Whitelaw: "I did not go into particulars with them at all, as they were only children. It is the usual school yrayer approved by the Board." Chairman: "Is it the usual practice at Home to open witE prayer V ■ . '■ !Miss Whitelaw: "Yes." ' Chairman: "I think the Board agreed *o the singing of atynm bj the girls?"
Mr Bagnall: "Yes." Chairman: "Mr Tibbs did not wish for a hymn for the boys." Miss Whitelaw: "No one objects to the hymn; the girls like it." Chairman: We have had this matter before us two or three times. It was a great gratification, to mc that we were always unanimous on this subject, and I "was surprised to get tEis memorial. Probably the memoralists were not aware of the system w£ had authorised. Perhaps they were not aware of the proviso to exempt, children whose parents objected.' The petitioners should be informed of the position of affairs, and that no such exemption had been asked for by parents of the boys. When the petitioners are aware of the facts they may withdraw the petition." Mr Bagnall: "I would not ask them to withdraw the petition." Dr. Roberton said there was an impression that this decision to open with prayers had been done quietly by the Board. The fact was that due notice was given, and a special meeting held to consider the form of prayer to be used, and finally the matter was confirmed at another meeting of the Board. He noticed that at those meetings only Mr Tole and Mr Kidd were absent, and the rest of us were unanimous. One argument used was that the House of Representatives is opened with prayer. Professor Brown said the writer of the letter should also be informed of the facts of the case. The Chairman said the petitioners and the writer of the letter would be informed of the facts, also that attendance at prayera was not compulsory, and that parents could get exemption for their children upon application to the headmaster or head mistress. Mr Bagnall said the best thing would be to forward a copy of the minute. The minute read as follows: Moved by Mr Parr: —"That effect be given to the recommendation of the principals of the Boys' and Girls' Schools to begin the school work with prayers, and that the form used at the Boys' School during the ensuing week be submitted to the Board at the end of that week for approval and its contima-nce, ai d thav it be an instruction to the principals to exempt from attendance at prayers any children wbose parents may iat any time request such exemption." It was finally agreed to forward this minute to the writers, with the information that prayers were used at the opening of similar schools in New Zealand; that the decision was made at a duly convened meeting of the 'Board which was open to the Press. The following is the prayer used at the opening of the Boys' School, and approved by the Board at a special meeting , held:—"Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, who seest all things which Thou hast made, looE down upon this school, and pour Thy blessing on all its members. Fill our hearts with thankfulness to Thee for all Thy mercies. Help us to do our daily work with all diligence and cheerfulness, so that we may learn to use our time and talents for the good of our nation and the honour and glory of Thy holy name. Give us the spirit of thankfulness and manliness, and grant that while we labour after earthly knowledge, we may also grow in the knowledge of Thee and of Thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord." There is also a second prayer for occasional use:—"Bless, we pray Thee, 0 Lord, all those who have gone forth from us to their work in the world Grant them such strength and protection as 6hall support them in all dang--and carry them through all temptations, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
THE GRAMMAR SCHOOL., Auckland Star, Volume XL, Issue 73, 26 March 1909
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