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Originally published Thursday, November 22, 2007 at 12:00 AM

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Class project's use of prayer irks parent

A class craft project with the Lord's Prayer attached to it has riled a parent in Shoreline whose 9-year-old son made the cardboard item...

Seattle Times staff reporter

A class craft project with the Lord's Prayer attached to it has riled a parent in Shoreline whose 9-year-old son made the cardboard item in his classroom this week.

But the Shoreline School District is standing behind the project, saying it is a traditional hornbook intended to teach students about life as a Pilgrim.

Glenn Creech, of Shoreline, said he was shocked when his son, Derek, brought home the project he made at Ridgecrest Elementary Tuesday with a preprinted copy of the Lord's Prayer stapled onto it. The item had a string attached to it, and his son was wearing it around his neck as he came off the bus.

"I thought that it was against the law for public schools to preach a specific religion," said Glenn Creech. "This is just outrageous."

Shoreline School District spokesman Craig Degginger said the craft was part of a larger learning project on the Pilgrims. Third-graders from two classes went around various stations manned by parent volunteers, tasting food of the period, churning butter, writing with a quill, dressing in period costumes and making a period toy.

Another station was for making a hornbook — a tool once used to teach Pilgrim children how to read. It traditionally consists of a page printed with the alphabet and the Lord's Prayer protected by a layer of transparent horn.

Derek Creech's teacher, who has worked in the district for more than 20 years, has done a similar activity since she started at Ridgecrest in 1999, Degginger said.

"It was a certainly legitimate lesson, well taught by a group of veteran teachers. ... This is the first time there has been a complaint, according to the principal," he said.

Schools are required by law to remain free of sectarian control or influence, according to the state constitution.

The Shoreline School District policy states that subjects taught in school "may have a religious dimension" and that the study of these disciplines "shall give neither preferential nor disparaging treatment to any single religion or to religion in general and must not be introduced or utilized for devotional purposes."

Degginger said the Pilgrim project, as well as the hornbook, "is in keeping with our policy."

Creech, who said his family is "not strongly religious," disagrees.

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"Giving someone a copy of a prayer, that could be implied that the prayer should be utilized for devotional purposes," he said.

Creech said the principal of Ridgecrest has scheduled a meeting with him next week to review the activity and craft.

Christina Siderius: csiderius@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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