MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Va. – People who live in the New River Valley and beyond are showing support for the Blacksburg High School girls lacrosse team after they were told they could not wear shirts that say “Pray for Peace.”
Montgomery County Public Schools said the word “peace” was rooted in politics.
“Its really great to see how the community has supported us,” Elise Levison, a member of the Blacksburg High School lacrosse team said.
Levison, like many others on the team, was hurt to learn they couldn’t wear the “Pray for Peace” shirts.
“People started reaching out and asking how can we get a shirt,” Claire Levison, Elise’s mom said.
The community and local businesses are in support of the girls wearing the shirts.
Claire says, at one point, they had a major rush after learning the shirts were against school policy.
The mother worked with the manager of High Peak Sportswear to get the shirts printed.
In the past month, she said people from 37 states bought nearly 500 shirts.
All the money will help “Friends of Ukraine,” a charity that helps orphans, widows and people with disabilities with essentials like food and evacuations in Ukraine.
“Largely in part due to the media attention when the girls were told they couldn’t wear the shirts,” Levison said. “I was surprised by this, I kind of had the feeling when it came out that people would be supportive but the national response to it, I was really surprised by.”
Travis Bishop is the Store Manager at High Peak Sportswear.
“It’s been great, we put them up in the front window to generate more interests and it has,” Bishop said.
After hearing the Levison Family’s story with Montgomery County School Board about the “Pray for Peace” shirts, Bishop wanted to help.
“I sent her a message saying that we would love to print your shirts and the way I look at it, who’s not for peace?” Bishop said. “It’s been great we put them up in the front window, ”
Montgomery County school leaders discussed the hot-button topic in a school board meeting in April.
The interim superintendent said “peace” has political ties.
“About a war, and a war is rooted in what, awkward pause, a war with people from different political views,” Annie Whitaker, the interim superintendent for Montgomery County Public Schools.
While the community is showing support for the lacrosse team, Elise Levison wishes she had backing from the administration.
“I just wished the administration supports us,” Elise said