Student's artwork shines again in Henryville

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by Michelle Arnold

WHAS11.com

Posted on November 22, 2013 at 7:21 PM

HENRYVILLE, Ind. (WHAS11) -- Letting the light shine through -- that was the intent behind hanging art students' stained glass projects on Henryville High School's front doors. So, when Hannah White's piece featuring three crosses was taken down, her teacher said White was upset.

“An artwork is a personal expression of you. It's part of you and it took her a long time to create with a lot of skill,” art teacher Hsiao-Ling Gardner said.

Henryville High School principal, Troy Albert told WHAS11 he took it down from the entrance as a preventative measure. He said he didn't want the artwork to offend anyone.

Hannah and her family attend First Baptist Church. Pastor Toby Jenkins talked to Hannah's father soon after the incident happened.

“He told me about the project and how her project was taken down," Jenkins said. "He just wanted us to pray for him since he was going to talk to Mr. Albert about it."

The news traveled through Henryville quickly.

This is the same town that was devastated by a massive tornado a year and a half ago on March 2nd, 2012.

Jenkins said after the tragedy, the community endured and the notion that a simple expression of faith was frowned upon outraged many.

“God has really done a work in our community through this tornado and people just felt like it was wrong,” Jenkins said. 

Principal Albert said after talking with White's father, Pastor Jenkins, the superintendent and the state school board attorney, he decided to put the artwork back up, but this time, display all of the students' artwork in one place.

Jenkins said he's glad the principal did the right thing.

“The students have a freedom of speech and they have a right to express themselves in regards to their religion. It’s the teachers that can't. It's the principals that can't drive an agenda, push a religion view or lead in prayer,” Jenkins said.

The school and the Whites are glad that they've come to a compromise.

Now, Hannah's work is back up. Her light can shine through.

“We can stand up for what we believe in. We can do that with humility, with love, and with courage. I think that's what's happened here,” Jenkins said.

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