Just before graduation, Connie Kendall is called in to see her adviser, Miss Hartl, and is informed that she has been chosen to be class valedictorian for Odyssey High School's 50th graduation ceremony! Her excitement is soon tempered, however, when Principal McFadden tells her that the prayer she offers in her graduation speech must be inoffensive to all students. He offers her a pre-written "acceptable" prayer that has been used before. Connie is shocked at being asked to hide her faith. She is even more confused when Miss Hartl advises her that she and other staff members, who feel this is an issue of religious persecution, will support Connie if she decides to defy the principal and mention Jesus in her prayer.
In the meantime, Connie's news that she is valedictorian is greeted with glee by Katrina Shanks and Whit, who both offered valedictory addresses at their graduations, but Eugene is ashamed to admit that he was not valedictorian of his high school. It wasn’t because of his grades, but because he was unwilling to compete with Larry Kent, who not only had good grades, but was a very popular football hero and homecoming king. The other students mocked Eugene because he didn't fit in. Eugene even refuses to help Cody Carper with his math homework because he now feels inferior to Connie.
Katrina locates Larry Kent, who tells Eugene that he and many other students were inspired to academic success by Eugene's brilliance and gives him an honorary valedictory certificate from his alma mater.
Eugene, Katrina, Whit, Tom, Jason, and Jack all arrive to see Connie’s graduation and notice that she looks nervous. When it is Connie’s turn to speak, she explains she has chosen not to pray, for the first time in 50 years of graduation ceremonies at Odyssey High School, because she is not allowed to express her faith freely and will not defy the authorities because of that faith. The crowd is awed into silence, but soon shows support for her stand by singing a hymn.
- Why wasn't Eugene the valedictorian of his school?
- Why didn't Connie want to say the prayer the principle gave her?
- On the other hand, why was she concerned about saying her own prayer?
- What factors led Connie to her decision not to say a prayer?
- Do you agree with her decision?
- Why or why not?
- Do you agree with her decision?
Heard in episode
|Cody Carper||Landon Arnold|
|Connie Kendall||Katie Leigh|
|Eugene Meltsner||Will Ryan|
|Miss Hartl||Pamela Hayden|
|John Whittaker||Paul Herlinger|
|Katrina Shanks||Pamela Hayden|
|Larry Kent||Jesse Corti|
|Principal McFadden||Jesse Corti|
Mentioned in episode
|Jason Whittaker||Connie Kendall|
|Jerry Whittaker||John Whittaker|
|Bernard Walton||Connie Kendall|
|Jack Allen||Eugene Meltsner|
|Joanne Woodston-Allen||Eugene Meltsner|
|Tom Riley||Eugene Meltsner|
- Listeners wrote in saying that the episode was wrong and that Connie did have a right to pray, and the staff agreed with them. So instead of re-recording the episode, they added a line to Chris's wrap up saying exactly that.
- A reference to the events of #380 – #381: “The One About Trust” is made in this episode's opening scene.
- This is the second episode in which Cody Carper advances the plot (or, in this case, subplot) of the episode by seeking homework help from Eugene—the first being #402: “Arizona Sunrise”, three episodes earlier.
- Eugene and Katrina's new habit in this episode of kissing each other hello may have been inspired by Connie's teasing them about not doing so in the couple's previous episode, #393: “Wrapped Around Your Finger”.
- This is the final episode to feature the 2nd AIO theme song (except for #467: “Broken Window” five albums later, though technically the AIO theme song doesn't actually appear in this episode).
- There is a 1967 movie with the same title as this episode.
Connie Kendall: Prayer is a very special thing—a one-on-one conversation with the Creator and Lord of the Universe, made possible through His Son. Anything less isn't a prayer.