CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A group of honor students at George Washington High School, which includes Katelyn Campbell, who recently went to court with Principal George Aulenbacher after a disagreement about an abstinence-only assembly, will not be allowed to speak at graduation next week as they had planned.
But Aulenbacher and Kanawha County Schools administrators say the move has nothing to do with the recent controversy over sex education headed by Campbell, and is part of a countywide directive to prevent lengthy graduation ceremonies.
Several GW students with "highest honors" -- which means they've maintained a 4.5 grade-point average and have completed numerous honors courses -- were told Wednesday they could not speak at next week's ceremony despite being urged to turn in their speeches for review for the past few months, according to Campbell.
Only the two students with the highest GPAs in the school will be allowed to make a speech. Campbell is ranked seventh in her class with a 4.8 GPA and says it was advertised that any student with highest honors had the option to make a speech.
Aulenbacher "just said, 'No, I've already decided.' He seemed pretty firm in his opinion," Campbell said. "Students have already memorized their speeches. We just don't understand why he allowed us to write our speeches when we weren't actually allowed to speak. It's a week away."
Campbell took to Facebook to voice her complaints with the abrupt change of plans, saying, "Politics, I suppose, play a greater role in the graduation of seniors than I had previously expected."
Aulenbacher said cutting back on speakers is simply an attempt by the county to streamline schools' graduation ceremony guidelines.
"Yes, the students would've liked knowledge of this sooner, but it's just a really busy time of year," he said. "We have allowed any highest honor students interested to speak in the past, but the county is looking for a more unified approach.
"This is absolutely nothing against [Campbell]," he said. "Anybody that knows me knows that I'm not hateful toward kids. That's not me at all."
Other highest honor students at GW declined to comment or did not immediately return phone calls.
Last month, Campbell made national headlines when she spoke out against Christian speaker Pam Stenzel being allowed to speak at GW. During an assembly, Stenzel talked about "the consequences of premarital sex" and told teen girls in the audience that having sex would lead to infertility, among other health complications. Stenzel also spoke at Riverside High School.
Campbell demanded Aulenbacher's resignation for allowing Stenzel's assembly at the school, and requested an injunction against him in court after she says he threatened to call the college where she'd been accepted and insult her character.