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School Concert Sparks Controversy

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WHITEFISH -

Whitefish school officials say the show will go on.

This despite the fact that the American Civil Liberties Union and the Freedom From Religion Foundation are asking the Whitefish school district to call off an upcoming choir concert scheduled to take place at a local church.

"Not to this magnitude, no," said Kerry Drown, the principal of Whitefish High School, comparing this recent debacle to those he has seen in nearly two decades in education, "We've had over the years someone who may raise a concern, but not a particular group that comes forward."

December 5, about a dozen members of the Whitefish choir are singing at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Kalispell. This has gotten attention from several groups in support of the separation of church and state. A letter from the ACLU of Montana says "this situation poses serious constitutional concerns and demonstrates a lack of respect." Many of the letters the school has received in the last week end the same way: asking for the concert to be canceled.

Superintendent Kate Orozco says the show will go on, but students can decide whether they will be a part of it or not.

"We would certainly not prohibit our kids from performing. We think the performance itself is a great experience for all of our kids and it's volunteer," said Orozco.

"That happens to be the same group that went through the recent controversy with the statue up on Big Mountain... So I think our sensitivity is a little heightened," offered Drown as an explanation for the unexpected outcry.

Although there were no revisions made, Orozco said she did regret some of the wording on the concert's posters, calling for a "celebration of our savior Jesus Christ."

Music at the concert will include some religious songs as well as secular tunes.

The concert starts at 7:00 p.m. on Whitefish Stage Road.

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