A chilly morning didn’t discourage students, staff and community members from gathering together Wednesday morning at local schools for the annual See You at the Pole event.
At Seymour Middle School, students formed a circle around the flagpole outside the building around 7:30 a.m.
People also came together outside Seymour High School, Brownstown Central High School, Crothersville Junior-Senior High School and Medora Community Schools.
See You at the Pole started in 1990 when a small group of teenagers in Burleson, Texas, came together for a Disciple Now weekend youth retreat.
When the Texas students felt compelled to pray for their friends, they went to school flagpoles and prayed for friends, schools and leaders.
According to syatp.com, an estimated 1 million students across the world participate in the event annually.
This year’s theme is “Aflame,” and the scripture verses are Romans 12:11-12: “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
The student-led program at SMS kicked off with around 14 students mostly with Fellowship of Christian Athletes, while several adults listened to the students read Bible verses and pray.
Among the adults present was SMS teacher and FCA sponsor Mindy Clay.
She said the national event is student-run and student-organized, and the kids were gathered to pray for the administration, the government, teachers, students and the community.
“I think it’s important that we put this event together each year, and it shows the importance of prayer to the kids,” she said.
Other adults at the event were FCA helpers and classroom assistants Janice Axsom and Kathleen Deaton and head building and groundskeeper Kurt Newkirk.
Clay led the students in singing “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High,” and Newkirk provided music at the event with his harmonica and played “Jesus Loves Me” and “How Great Thou Art” while students and staff members sang along.
Newkirk said he enjoyed helping out with music at the prayer event because it’s all about the kids.
“There was one student who was worried about only one or two people showing up, but if a farmer has a feeding trough and all the cattle are in the pasture and just one cow wants fed, that’s us,” he said. “That’s one meal God is giving, and if only one person shows up, he is still feeding us.”
Axsom said the group meets weekly at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday at the school.
“They get together, have doughnuts, pray for others and sometimes, they have a speaker come in,” Axsom said. “It’s important for them to have the opportunity to meet and have fellowship.”
Emili Skinner, one of the FCA leaders, started off the event by reading 1 Timothy 2:1-4.
“First of all then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way,” Skinner read. “This is good and it is pleasing in the sight of God, our savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
Other FCA members who prayed were Caleb Jablonski for administration, Chloe Jablonski for government, Izabellah Long for teachers, Aidda Schepman for students and Bridget Deaton for community.
Students who read scriptures were Max Reinhart, Gabby Cornn, Katelynn Woods and Betsy Bruce.
Woods said she likes FCA because she gets to learn more about God, while Bruce said it gets her closer to God and she learns new things.
At Seymour High School, See You at the Pole was led by Fellowship of Christian Students and drew 58 students and adults.
Multiple local churches were there supporting the event, as worship pastors from Seymour Christian Church, The Point and Emmanuel Church came together to lead worship. Then students took turns reading scriptures and praying.
“It was super powerful, one of the most amazing See You at the Pole mornings I’ve seen,” said Kelsie Rieker, Emmanuel’s worship and groups pastor. “Sam Carter, a senior and leader of FCS, organized the morning. Super awesome.”
Crothersville had 20 people gather around the flagpole as the sun rose Wednesday morning.
Sophomore Dirk Crater shared some scripture, and then Fellowship of Christian Students Adviser Logan Oakes invited attendees to silently pray before they joined hands and could share a prayer with the group.
“I wasn’t expecting 20 people. I was expecting like five or 10,” Crater said. “I think it’s awesome that people just want to pray before school and just be closer to God. I think personally, it makes us closer as people coming together and praying. It just makes you feel good as a person.”
Oakes said he was “super, super encouraged” by the turnout.
“I think God is doing something really cool in Crothersville,” he said. “It’s encouraging to see the numbers turnout with staff and the students. Super happy about the turnout, and I’m praying that God is doing our great work in here. It’s cool to witness it.”
FCS, which started at the school in 2018, meets weekly on Wednesday mornings. Oakes said it’s open to high school students, and attendance varies from meeting to meeting.
“Last year, we did a lot of internal stuff, and this year, we’re going to try to do a lot of external stuff, whatever the school permits us to do,” he said. “We’re doing some Operation Christmas Child stuff with Samaritan’s Purse this year. We took a field trip last year on a weekend, and I think we’re going to do one of those again this year.”
Oakes and Mindy Deaton are the advisers, and they try to keep it student-led.
“When I was in high school, I really needed prayer requests, I really needed to have students who were in my grade knowing there were some issues going on, especially those kids who are battling the same things and they were also trying to figure out their faith, too, and trying to figure out ‘What do I believe?’ and ‘What do I not believe?’” he said.
Now, FCS provides that space for Crothersville High School students.
“I needed some people in my life at my age who were able to relate, and they weren’t afraid to show up early and talk about it or maybe they were at the lunchroom, but they don’t care if there’s only seven of them in a room talking about it,” Oakes said. “It’s easier.”
Nine members of Brownstown Central High School’s Christian Club gathered around the flagpole directly in front of the school’s main doors at 7 a.m. Wednesday.
Throughout the service, the students held hands and prayed around the flagpole, played Christian music and read Bible verses.
At the end, the students split off into three different groups to have more intimate discussions about what to pray for.
One group was comprised of BCHS senior Madison Stuckwisch and freshmen Ellie Black and Alli Robertson.
Robertson said they prayed that families in Florida would stay safe from Hurricane Ian’s impact.
Stuckwisch said they wanted to pray to “make sure families are safe and out of the way of harm and that God’s watching over.”
Black said they prayed for protection for students, staff and anyone who needs protection.
“We prayed for the staff and to make sure everyone goes home safe at night,” she said.
Senior Raegan Ratliff said her group prayed for her to pass an upcoming driver’s test and for everyone to have good mental health.
“Lots of students have anxiety and depression,” she said. “We just want that to get better.”