Vidalia High students gather before classes for ‘See You at the Pole’

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 19, 2003

VIDALIA, La. &045; While the day may have seemed to most like any other day at school, for about 60 Vidalia High School students, it began quite differently.

Starting with one student and growing to a small group of six Wednesday morning, prayer began early at Vidalia High.

Wednesday was the 14th annual See You at the Pole, in which students from high schools around the country gather around their flagpoles to pray for their school, their community and whatever else they feel they need to pray about.

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From that small group of six who gathered early to pray before the others arrived came a few more and a few more, to 20 to 36 to 44 to 53 students gathered around the flag pole just outside the entrance into school.

As a few more trickled in increasing the group to about 60, the students continued praying, right there on the front lawn for all to see.

This is much the same way this event itself began. It originated in 1990 with a Texas youth group praying at schools around their area and grew to more than 2.5 million teenagers participating last year.

The prayer is student-led, and the students did take the lead Wednesday morning, praying for those gathered, those who were not, for the school and the community. Students also simply thanked God for the freedom to pray.

The crowd was encouraged to pray, either silently or out loud, which many did.

Some were more soft-spoken and some more robust in their prayer.

Buses drove past making it difficult to hear many times, but the students kept on. People walked past and offered passing glances, but the students kept on. Cars drove past, some with music blaring and bumping that did not yield even after the request of one student, but they kept on.

Consumed was the theme, and it seemed some of the students were almost consumed in prayer. The passage for this year’s event, 1 Kings 18:26-39, tells the story of Elijah, who called down God’s consuming fire on a sacrifice drenched with water. The doubters saw the fire lick up even the water in the trench around the sacrifice and those people then declared the Lord their God.

After the scripture was read, two sophomores spoke to the crowd about the purpose of such an event. Will Merritt stressed the importance of &uot;taking advantage of every right we have here at school&uot; referring to the students’ ability to pray at school.

He and fellow sophomore Daniel Stephens along with a few other students meet every morning to pray before the beginning of school, and they invited all those in attendance to join them.

Stephens quoted 1 Thessalonians 5:17, &uot;Pray without ceasing&uot; in their effort to get others to join them for more than just this one day.

&uot;It is awesome to be able to announce Christ,&uot; Stephens said, as opposed to so many countries where people do not have the freedom of religion.

Then the group broke into small groups to pray, only to be brought back to that daily routine

and the ringing of the official start to their school day &045; the bell.