Christian students across the nation and around the world gathered at their school flagpoles this morning for the annual ‘See You at the Pole’ day, a student-led prayer event that has been a much-observed tradition for over 20 years.
“See You at the Pole” began in the town of Burleson, Texas, a suburb of Fort Worth, and has since spread to all 50 states and 20 countries worldwide, including Canada, Australia, Japan and South Africa.
“A small group of teenagers in Burleson, Texas, came together for a DiscipleNow weekend in early 1990,” the event website explains. “On Saturday night their hearts were penetrated like never before, when they became broken before God and burdened for their friends. Compelled to pray, they drove to three different schools that night. Not knowing exactly what to do, they went to the school flagpoles and prayed for their friends, schools, and leaders. Those students had no idea how God would use their obedience.”
The gathering later was dubbed “See You at the Pole” by area youth leaders, and the concept of students praying around the flagpole was shared that summer during a large youth event. By September, over 45,000 students gathered to prayer for their friends, teachers and country.
Today, all around the globe, in every time zone, students gathered at their flagpoles to pray for their communities, just as those who have gone before did over 20 years ago. The 2014 theme is “Never Stop Praying,” and the organization outlines that this year’s theme verse, Ephesians 6:18, “follows Paul’s famous passage on the armor of God, challenging and encouraging Christ followers to stand strong in the Lord and be His representatives to share the good news of the gospel. ”
“We do this to promote the power of prayer and to share God’s word with our students, staff, and community,” Commerce, Oklahoma physical education teacher Rochelle Crawford told reporters. “It gives the students a chance to show they are not embarrassed to take a stand for God.”
“Today’s society has really, in my opinion, gotten away from being morally sound,” also stated coach Jerome Sandoval of Deming High School in New Mexico. “If you believe in God, you can come and pray for your school, classmates, teachers, family and community. This is something I think is important and we need more of.”
Over a million students worldwide were estimated to have participated in the gathering this year. More than 20o students, parents and teachers joined together this morning outside outside of Veterans High School in Kathleen, Georgia, and dozens at Robert E. Lee High School in Baytown, Texas did the same. A number of participants at gatherings nationwide posted photographs of the prayer meeting to Facebook, including at Terre Haute North High School in Indiana, St. James Middle School in Missouri, Waynesburg Central High School in Pennsylvania and Newark High School in Delaware.
In Southgate, Michigan, one parent reported that her son stood alone to pray at his school’s flagpole, but was soon joined by two teachers who bowed their heads with him.
Christian legal groups educated students on their rights prior to the global gathering. Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) created a legal memo in the event of an emergency.
“Students don’t abandon their constitutional freedoms at the schoolhouse gate,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “They continue to have the freedom to peacefully express their beliefs while at school, and that certainly includes prayer. The First Amendment protects freedom of speech for all students, regardless of the students’ religious or political beliefs.”
Some youth pastors in cities nationwide held pre-See You at the Pole events Tuesday night, and some are participating in the Global Week of Student Prayer, which continues through Saturday.