Students Can Still Observe Moment of Silence in Public Schools

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Everyday, students at Rock Prairie Elementary begin the day with with pledges, followed by a moment of silence.

"The moment of silence was started when the legislatures began requiring that," Bryan ISD Communications Director Sandy Farris said.

"When we started it, it seemed as though it was well accepted because it can be used in any way you want it to be used," Ann Ganter with College Station ISD said.

Under law, the state's moment of silence statute allows students to voluntarily "reflect, pray or meditate" at the beginning of each school day.

However, the law has been met with controversy as some have questioned if it's a tactic to bring prayer into public schools. A federal district judge rejected a lawsuit by parents of a Carrolton-Farmers Branch student who claimed the timeout violated separation of church and state.

Local school officials say the silence does not infringe on first amendment rights.

"Even though it's a requirement from the legislature that we have that, we don't necessarily require students to observe it," Farris said. "We do ask the students to be respectful and mindful of others who may be using that time for prayer or whatever purpose they may have.

"We don't pray out loud at school, but that time and anytime, a school student certainly in their own quiet way can be praying," Ganter said.

In fact, many Brazos County residents think the time of reflection is good for students.

"I think it's great, and I think they should be able to pray and do what they want to do," Tucker Smith said.

"I think it would be good for them to stop and think about what's going on," Matt Klunkert said.

Amy Bellard added, "We all need to take a few moments here and there for different thoughts and things."

Both Bryan and College Station schools say the "quiet time" hasn't faced any opposition and has been received well by students.

"Students respect it. They're quiet. You might see in some classrooms students bowing their heads. Some may simply be waiting for it to be over," Farris said.

The moment of silence was instituted in area schools in 2003.