Administrators thought the group was speaking about provocative lyrics in music and making good choices. But then, the subject matter turned to potentially offensive opinions on homosexuality and abortion.
You Can Run will have a community discussion to answer questions and discuss their point of view at Faith Assembly of God on Lafayette Road in Elk Run Heights on Monday at 7 p.m.
Meanwhile, the superintendent is doing damage control after the group's unexpected message.
"We work hard to teach tolerance in our classrooms," Superintendent Jim Stanton told students at a second assembly Thursday afternoon.
The afternoon gathering was not originally part of the superintendent's plans Thursday, but was scheduled after the first one went awry.
"I thought it was going to be a fun three hour assembly and I'd get out of some classes," remarked seventh grade student Adam Manahl.
Students say the assembly started well. The band played some great music and most students agreed with their message.
"They were a rock band, and they talked about music that had bad influences on kids," said high school junior Kenzley Ricklefs.
But then things took an unexpected turn. The group switched their message from music, to negative opinions about the gay, lesbian, and transgendered community.
"They started talking about homosexuality, and that's when I really got offended," Manahl said. "I got a little emotional. I wanted to walk out. But I'm like -- keep your calm, listen to what they have to say."
Then they split into smaller groups -- girls, boys, and teachers. The guys got a lesson in the constitution and Christianity. The conversation in the girls group was very different.
"I'm a Christian, so I believe in most of the things that they said. Like, they talked about if you're unpure in your past, it's your past. You can create a new future for yourself," senior Ashley Satterlee said.
Satterlee and her friends believe some of the younger kids could learn a lot from the discussion about respecting your body and saving yourself for marriage. But other students say this and a strong pro-life, anti-abortion message, went too far for a public school.
"That's not something you should force down someone's throat. They called me out because I wasn't participating because I didn't believe what they wanted me to believe in, and they forced me to participate," Ricklefs said.
The superintendent said all of this is shocking and goes against his district's mission of acceptance and tolerance.
"Where did that come from? That's not what we were anticipating, and when we called the other schools where they had been, why wasn't this mentioned?" Stanton said.
Some parents complained, saying the district should have done their homework.
"Five minutes on the Internet on my phone, probably two minutes to find out information if I was on a real computer about what the group stood for. It was appalling," said Kenzley's mother, Kochell Ricklefs.
The superintendent says he is in the wrong. He realizes he can't go back in time and stop the messages from being heard, but he will work to reverse the effects of what was said.
"To not take that responsibility, what is that teaching our children? We made a decision. It was a poor decision. And you know what? We're going to suffer the consequences of that decision. We're going to continue to do what we can to make it right," said Stanton.
There will also be a meeting on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the high school. Stanton says the purpose of the meeting is to discuss the district's action plan moving forward.
On YouCanRunInternational.com, the group describes itself as a Judeo-Christian group based out of Minnesota with the mission to reshape America both morally and spiritually.
Sunday, April 20 2014 1:03 PM EDT2014-04-20 17:03:37 GMT
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