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Seneca, Mo. junior high student gives up talking for Lent

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SENECA, MISSOURI -

Thirteen year old Decklan Conway of Seneca, Missouri is quietly gaining attention with how he is observing Lent.

"We were hoping maybe about another 40 or 50 would follow his lead and take a vow of silence," says math teacher Dawn Pickering.

The idea came from Decklan's brother, Kyle.  He was supposed to do it but later backed out.

"I have science fair and speech and debate I have to do, so he took it," Kyle says.

Since the start of Lent, Decklan has communicated through writing on a dry-erase board.

Less than a week since taking his oath of silence, Decklan has already gone through three markers.

And his grades have improved.

Teachers have certainly noticed.

With his brother Kyle reading the board for him, Decklan writes that teachers call on him more in class "just to pick on him".

"I thought 'oh, it's going to be such a problem and a distraction' but he is such a good kid," says Mrs. Pickering.  "The kids had lots of questions at first, but it was just like if any kid got a new haircut or something.  It was a big deal the first day and then after that it really hasn't been a distraction at all."

"Miss Molder, his social studies teacher, calls on him a lot," says Kyle.  "I think she just gets a kick out of it."

"He's had to borrow a marker every once in a while and we do a lot of peer tutoring so he'll have his tutor, or his partner go ahead and give an answer for him," says Mrs Pickering.  "He'll just jot it down real quick, but it really has not been a problem at all."

But Decklan says he is not doing this just for kicks, to get on TV or gain attention.

"'God gave up his only son for us,'" Kyle reads.  "'He gave up his life for us.  What are you willing to give up for them?'"

It has not been easy, especially in a social setting where being social is key.

"'I lost some friends because I couldn't talk,'" Kyle reads.  "'I don't really care because I'm doing it for a greater purpose.'"

"It's wonderful for a child his age to stand by his conviction and to be a leader and that's basically what he's done," says Mrs Pickering.  "'This is what I believe in.  I'm not doing it to show off.  I'm not doing it to be a distraction.  This is my belief and this is what I feel is most important to give up for this season.'"

Decklan has already planned the first words his vocal chords will pump out Easter morning.

"He'd go outside and say Thank God," reads Kyle.

Decklan does not know if he will give up talking for Lent next year.

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