The sun rises at 6:51 a.m. today. Nine minutes later, some Columbia-area students plan to pray around their schools’ flagpoles, seeking God on behalf of their nation, their schools and their families and friends.
“My prayer for this Wednesday is that it will be a day of fellowship and evangelism,” Hickman senior Daniela Dupree said.
Dupree has participated in the “See You at the Pole” event since she was in kindergarten at Christian Chapel Academy.
Last year, about 300 students from Columbia Public Schools participated.
They will not be alone; students from all 50 states, as well as Canada, Australia and South Korea, plan to participate.
The idea started in 1990 in Texas with a small group of teenagers. It is now an annual nationwide event that involves more than 3 million students. All events are student-led.
This year, Dupree will lead the event at Hickman High School, which will include a time of worship, a large group prayer and smaller groups to focus on specific requests.
Not all students at Hickman approve of the event.
“Some people say we just do it to show off or to get a rise out of people,” Dupree said. “But we don’t. It is about us standing up and being proud that we are Christians.”
Kim Presko, principal at Oakland Junior High School, said students have gathered for prayer at Oakland’s flagpole annually for five years without any complaints from other students or parents.
“With the separation of church and state, it is held to certain parameters. But because it is student-led, I think it’s great,” Presko said. “Because it happens before school, it doesn’t disrupt the school day.”
National guidelines say the event must be student-led and take place outside instructional time.
At Rock Bridge High School, Josh Burt, a junior, will lead the event.
Burt said the main purpose of the event is not to get people to ask questions.
“It’s about taking a stand for our faith,” Burt said. “In the end, it’s the biggest stand you can make.”
Area youth pastors will have a “Saw You at the Pole” rally at 7 p.m. today at the K-Life Center to give students a chance to share their experiences from the morning and to be challenged to continue to stand for Christ. There will be a speaker and a performance by the Columbia-area band Wisdom’s Cry.