(AP) The Amish schoolhouse quiets as students in first through eighth grades settle into tight rows of scuffed metal desks to begin singing, their voices rising and dipping like the surrounding hills.

A warm breeze carries the religious lyrics, in German, through the room’s open windows and over the fields where their families will mingle after this ceremony marking the school year’s end. Typically all this happens in late April, but the festivities have been moved up to allow some youngsters a few more days of family time before their parents head to federal prison.

Come Friday, four women and one man from this tight-knit group in rural eastern Ohio will enter the prison system in various states, joining nine already behind bars on hate crimes convictions for hair- and beard-cutting attacks against fellow Amish.

 

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