Parents React to Plan to Move Elementary Students During Ceremony with Guns

DREHER TOWNSHIP -- It will be a far from a normal week of school for students and teachers in a district in the Poconos.

A nearby church is holding a blessing ceremony involving weapons, so officials with the Wallenpaupack Area School district are relocating students from the elementary school on Wednesday.

Parents are giving the decision mixed reviews.

All 280 Wallenpaupack South Elementary students, kindergarten through fifth grade, will be bused to the north campus near Hawley about 15 miles away while a controversial religious ceremony involving firearms is scheduled to take place down the road.

The Sanctuary Church is preparing for up to 600 worshipers Wednesday in the Newfoundland area, many bringing AR-15 rifles with them.

Parents with kids at Wallenpaupack South Elementary right down the road from the church are both for and against the district's decision to relocate students to another campus for the day.

"I'm very happy," Suzanne Krug said. "I was going to pull my son out. I didn't want him to see the traffic or anything he could possibly see."

Rev. Sean Moon of Sanctuary Church would not move the ceremony to the weekend citing religious reasons. He's the son of the late controversial religious leader Sun Myung Moon. The family owns a gun maker in Pike County and preach gun rights.

"We received a number of concerns from parents about the safety of our students," said Wallenpaupack Area Superintendent Michael Silsby.

The district originally planned more officers at the elementary school for added safety but decidedĀ on Friday all students and teachers will be bused to the elementary schools near Hawley for the entire school day Wednesday.

"We thought with the age of the kids, the concern of the public, the unknowns, and fact that school safety is in everyone's foremost thoughts because of the tragedy in Florida, the most proactive move would be to move students for the day," said Silsby.

Some think the school is overreacting by moving students for the day but also understand in this day and age, it may be a new reality for schools when it comes to anything related to guns.

"It was the right call to move it because the parents that have to send their kids, at least they have a place that's not right next to the church with the crap going on with the guns," Carol Kowalchuk said.

The ceremony at Sanctuary Church in Wayne County is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday.

The firearms aren't supposed to be loaded and are meant to symbolize the church's belief that it's a right to defend your family with an AR-15.

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