Greenbrier, Harlem students gather to pray during See You at the Pole

Bianca Cain/Staff
Rachel Coburn and James Barnes play guitars and lead songs are.Greenbrier High on Wednesday
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Before classes began Wednesday morning, nearly 100 students at Greenbrier High School gathered to pray.

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Harlem High School students Dalton Long (from left), Lindsay Matherly, Hadley Beggs and Preston Kitchings sing during See You at the Pole.  DONNIE FETTER/STAFF
DONNIE FETTER/STAFF
Harlem High School students Dalton Long (from left), Lindsay Matherly, Hadley Beggs and Preston Kitchings sing during See You at the Pole.

“This is the only way we can worship freely without being judged,” freshman Candace Wakefield said.

See You at the Pole is an annual student-led rally held across the nation at school flagpoles before the start of the day. Since it’s start in a Texas school in 1990, millions of students gather to bow their heads in unity on the fourth Wednesday of September.

In the midst of early morning school traffic and a caravan of buses, students sang along to praise songs led and lifted their hands to the sky. The students then broke apart for small group prayers.

Last year after the event, Greenbrier students decided to meet every week at the flagpole for prayer, said Kaley Holley, the co-vice president of Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Students said the event not only provided an opportunity to sing praises but also to meet students with similar beliefs.

Students gathered elsewhere across the region, including dozens at Harlem High School.

“We’ll pray for our sports teams; we’ll pray for our health; we’ll pray for our school,” Harlem sophomore Christina Rentas said of what she and her classmates might speak to God about at the 7 a.m. event.

About 40 students formed a semi-circle around the Harlem High School’s flagpole and sang along with a quartet of their classmates performing contemporary Christian songs. They then heard a short sermon and prayer from Steve White, the youth pastor at Journey Community Church, before breaking into prayer circles.

The event served as more than just a short worship service before school, Rentas said. It also gave the students a chance to encourage one another in their faith.

“It’s about us standing with each other for him,” the 15-year-old said. “It’s a chance for us to be there to encourage each other.”

Maintaining faith amidst the temptations offered at a public high school often proves too burdensome without someone to turn to, Rentas said.

“Even in school, we know we can go to God and, of course, he’ll forgive us,” she said.

White’s speech echoed Rentas’ sentiment of Christians empowering one another through prayer.

“Everything we put our minds to … if we do it with the power of God, we will succeed,” he said.

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Cynical old woman
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Cynical old woman 09/28/11 - 09:08 am
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Not only Harlem...The AC

Not only Harlem...The AC needs to report on Lakeside high and middle.

smec29
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smec29 09/28/11 - 09:29 am
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See you at the pole is a

See you at the pole is a nationwide annual event led by students. National Day of Prayer is a different day altogether.

Cassandra Harris
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Cassandra Harris 09/28/11 - 09:44 am
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This is a student led event

This is a student led event that had gone nationwide and is a perfect example that the so-called "war on christianity" in public schools does not exist. Students may gather in groups and lead each other in prayer, may meet together in groups, such as the Christians Athletes. However, other belief systems have the same rights also. Besides the "Prayer at the Pole" in virtually every school district in GA and SC, as in most of the nation, the day begins with a moment of silence in which students may choose to silently pray, meditate, or just sit quietly.

Donnie Fetter
3
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Donnie Fetter 09/28/11 - 10:41 am
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@Cynical old woman: A couple

@Cynical old woman: A couple of years ago Lakeside was featured in a prayer at the pole story. The year after it was Greenbrier. Now, it's Harlem High's turn.

grouse
1635
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grouse 09/28/11 - 10:42 am
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Isn't this what a church is
Unpublished

Isn't this what a church is for? Didn't Jesus preach against showing displays of praying in public?

Evans Ga 2010
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Evans Ga 2010 09/28/11 - 10:52 am
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Yes I agree with Donnie.

Yes I agree with Donnie. Cynical old woman is being hostile about Harlem being showcased. Chill out lady, geesh.

grouse
1635
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grouse 09/28/11 - 11:20 am
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It's interesting that no
Unpublished

It's interesting that no other religion besides Christianity need to make such displays on public property, no do their members need such mutual support to maintain "faith amidst the temptations" of high school.

Chillen
17
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Chillen 09/28/11 - 11:38 am
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Seriously grouse?! What

Seriously grouse?! What about the muslim calls to worship that echo throughout the streets of NYC?

What do you think all the beheadings, the female beatings & mutilations, the car bombs & the acts of terrorism are? They are very public and very violent displays of radical islamic religion.

And the last time I checked, we do have freedom of speech in this country. We also are free to practice whatever religion we want as long as it doesn't break any laws (like killing or hurting someone).

Cassandra Harris
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Cassandra Harris 09/28/11 - 11:35 am
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Grouse absolutely. If these

Grouse absolutely. If these were students Pagans, Hindus, Muslims or Atheists would the story be seen in the same light?

Cassandra Harris
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Cassandra Harris 09/28/11 - 11:37 am
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How convenient to get an

How convenient to get an immediate answer to my question.

Peaches1973
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Peaches1973 09/28/11 - 11:42 am
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I usually don't comment on

I usually don't comment on things like this... but I saw grouse's comments and couldn't leave well enough alone. These students are just doing what the Bible says to do. Jesus told his disciples to go out into the world and preach the Word, show the world their beliefs and share His teachings. They're not hijacking planes for Allah. They're not beheading reporters on international online media. And they're not trying to outlaw Islam, Buddism or any other religion, just exercising their freedom to pray in public with their friends.

grouse
1635
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grouse 09/28/11 - 11:48 am
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Chillen, actually there is a
Unpublished

Chillen, actually there is a law regarding the use of public property for religious purposes, and it is the very law you cite. I have yet to see any "beheadings, the female beatings & mutilations, the car bombs & the acts of terrorism" on any public school grounds (on in America, in general), though I have read of Christians being directed by God to kill their children, spouses, or abortion providers, so I'm not sure you really want to go there. Nor am I aware of any Muslin calls to worship anywhere in Augusta (and I'm doubtful about NYC, though I could be wrong). I do know that area churches regularly play recordings of carillons playing religious songs around noontime. As Cassandra Harris asks, would you be opposed to representatives of the other points of view gathering like-minded students before classes to "conference?"

Chillen
17
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Chillen 09/28/11 - 12:04 pm
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This is just for you Grouse.

This is just for you Grouse. All of this is on PUBLIC streets.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RDxJGtX5COk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55q-vSUbst8

Every religion does it. Why are you so offended when Christians do it?

Christians are not the enemy you know. Contrary to what you seem to believe.

To answer cassanda's question. No, I would not be offended. Provided that they are not disruptive or violent. Its a free country. (unless you are a Christian being attacked by atheists & liberals with a clear agenda)

Chillen
17
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Chillen 09/28/11 - 12:02 pm
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Jewish folks use the public

Jewish folks use the public streets for their festivals. http://www.jweekly.com/article/full/23996/-to-life-festival-br-jewish-cu...

Gay rights groups (not a religion but it is an organized group with their own opinions) use the public streets for their parades & rallys & to further their agenda.

Atheists gather on public streets and in Times Square - yelling at people passing by. http://nyc-atheists.org/nytimes.html

Should all of this be banned too? After all, its on PUBLIC property. I don't think you want to go here grouse.

DawgnSC69
257
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DawgnSC69 09/28/11 - 12:05 pm
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Anti-christians are the main

Anti-christians are the main reason our country is headed toward destruction. These far left liberals will go to death protecting any religious freedom as long as it's NOT Christianity.

Sweet son
10053
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Sweet son 09/28/11 - 12:08 pm
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Way to go Chillen!!! Looks

Way to go Chillen!!! Looks like a public street in the second video to me. It even comes with sacred chairs and bed sheets for the barricade!

Keep on praying kids!!!!!

grouse
1635
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grouse 09/28/11 - 12:09 pm
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Chillen, you are being
Unpublished

Chillen, you are being disingenuous with your last statement and the proof is that Christians ARE holding these session without interference, and we are using OUR freedom of speech on this forum to argue against the hijacking of the public schools for YOUR agenda. As your examples, ah me, http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/changingface.asp The first simply shows a photos with a sound track laid over it and the second shows a legal religious rally such as those performed by Christians all over the country (but NOT, as you might note on a public school). Again, my first question: isn't this what churches are for (and since all the participates are already Christian, isn't this just proselytizing) and second, did not Jesus, in Mathew 6:6 give specific instructions on how to pray and also preached against such displays?

Cassandra Harris
-3
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Cassandra Harris 09/28/11 - 12:11 pm
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Public schools have the right

Public schools have the right to allow STUDENT LEAD religious activities OUTSIDE the classroom as long as there is no coercion for all to attend or school reward for those who do attend. In order to keep this right, the schools must allow all other belief groups to have the same rights and privileges. In other words, Pagan Pride Day is coming up in Augusta next Saturday. Should Wiccan, Druid, Native American or other Pagan students desire to gather for a similar event, they must be granted the same privilege without prejudice or harassment. Should the Atheist students desire to hold a similar event to celebrate Darwin Day, they also must be granted the same right. Even Satanist students get this right.

Only problem is, when it is non-christian groups asserting the same rights as the Christian groups, there is a public outcry and quite often a suppression of the rights of the non-christian students. In many public schools in this area, bullying and harassment of non-christian students is perpetrated not only by fellow students but by the adults who should be protecting them. I have witnessed this behavior first hand.

Chillen
17
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Chillen 09/28/11 - 12:28 pm
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cassandra. Could you please

cassandra. Could you please provide proof of public outcry over non Christian groups meeting peacefully on school grounds here in the CSRA?

Cassandra Harris
-3
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Cassandra Harris 09/28/11 - 12:30 pm
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Dawg, the kids are openly

Dawg, the kids are openly praying without harassment, what are you talking about? Your post makes no sense to me.

Chillen
17
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Chillen 09/28/11 - 12:34 pm
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Grouse. Here's the funny

Grouse. Here's the funny thing. I have no agenda. I believe in God but I truly don't believe that any one religion has a lock on Heaven. I believe that any person who is good and doesn't do intentional major harm to others will go to Heaven (you can see why I have a problem with radical islam). What kind of God would leave you out because you are Buddist or Jewish? Not mine, that's for sure.

Now that said, I believe that their is a major assault on Christianity going on in the USA and truly worldwide. I believe as cassandra does. as long as the school isn't organizing this then they are free to gather and do as they please (as long as it doesn't interrupt school time and clearly this does not).

grouse
1635
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grouse 09/28/11 - 12:34 pm
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0
Absolutely, Cassandra. The
Unpublished

Absolutely, Cassandra. The article states that a youth pastor is leading this group. I am fairly certain that no one outside of school employees and students are allowed on a school campus without the knowledge and consent of the school's principal. The article should have addressed this. I also have no problems with the students gathering as a group to prayer (though I contend it is ignoring Jesus's admonition - but that's their problem) as long as other students are not harassed for not participating. I also have no problem with the church sponsor of this using a classroom AFTER HOURS so that it does not interrupt the school day (which use to be - and may still be -- one hour prior to and after regular classroom hours. Still, school is for learning, not for proselytizing ANYONE's religion and all students, regardless of their faith - or lack of it - should be given the opportunity to learn in as safe an environment as possible, free from outside influences that have nothing to do with learning the three R's...

Chillen
17
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Chillen 09/28/11 - 12:36 pm
0
0
cassandra. You said. "when

cassandra. You said. "when it is non-christian groups asserting the same rights as the Christian groups, there is a public outcry"

So I asked. "Could you please provide proof of public outcry over non Christian groups meeting peacefully on school grounds here in the CSRA?"

Cassandra Harris
-3
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Cassandra Harris 09/28/11 - 12:37 pm
0
0
Seeing how these events do

Seeing how these events do not make the press, I cannot give you an internet citation. However, I taught a number of years in area public high schools and have witnessed first hand what happens. Just so you understand the outcry on the AC comments, here is the link to last year's Pagan Pride Day festivities. The comments were removed and blocked from posting due to all the hate speech against the pagan community.

http://chronicle.augusta.com/life/your-faith/2010-10-01/pagans-hope-fest...

Chillen
17
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Chillen 09/28/11 - 12:39 pm
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Now here's the really sad

Now here's the really sad thing.

Good teenagers are one in a thousand now. These kids are trying to be good & live right.

They were probably very excited that the newspaper showed up today to do a story about them. Being teenagers & young I'm sure they will come home & go straight to the computer to see the story about them.

And what will they be met with? Attacks on their Christianity & attacks on them. I wish people would think about that stuff before they post. These are clearly good kids & they don't deserve this treatment.

Cynical old woman
1099
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Cynical old woman 09/28/11 - 12:43 pm
0
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I am NOT anti-Harlem

I am NOT anti-Harlem (actually have a child who attends Harlem Middle) but personally believe all schools that participated should be recognized. I simply knew that Lakeside was involved because a friend of mine teaches there. My hat is off to ALL students, teachers, facility, visitors, etc. that were involved. To get a teenager to be at school as early as the did (7 AM I believe) is a feat in itself.

Cassandra Harris
-3
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Cassandra Harris 09/28/11 - 01:01 pm
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0
chillen - could you please

chillen - could you please copy and paste the words used by posters here that are "attacks" on the Christian community or on these kids? I don't see any such "attacks". I am quite happy these kids are asserting their rights.

I also take issue with your assertion that good kids are "one in a thousand". I find that the majority of teens desire to be good, productive people. Unfortunately good new does not make press like bad news so we just hear more about the kids who make bad choices.

Vito45
-2
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Vito45 09/28/11 - 01:00 pm
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0
Chillen, I don't see the harm

Chillen, I don't see the harm in the kids seeing this discussion; it should only strenghten their resolve as they read postings such as grouse, plus raise their awareness of how they should conduct themselves with respect to religion when reading psotings like Cassandra. She mirrors my opinion on it.

InChristLove
22459
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InChristLove 09/28/11 - 01:15 pm
0
0
I do believe there is a

I do believe there is a misconception concerning the verses in Matthew 6 concerning praying in public. These verses are not meant to deny Christians from praying in public. The street corners and synagogues were a normal places for prayer. Devout Jews would stop wherever they were for prayer if it was the prayer hour (9am, 12pm, and 3pm). When Jesus spoke, he told them “do not be like the hypocrites”, referring to the Pharisees who were great about putting on airs in public. This wasn’t about praying in public so much as it was about motive of the heart. This is how biblical scripture can be taken out of context when not enough study is done on the time period, what was going on at that time, who he was speaking to and also having a relationship with Christ so you know His character.

smec29
31
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smec29 09/28/11 - 01:21 pm
0
0
Thank you ICL, very well

Thank you ICL, very well said. These kids are doing exactly what they are instructed to do; show the world their faith, and doing it in the way instructed - peacfully with love for those around them.

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