About 200 students clustered around two flagpoles at Lakeside High School on Wednesday to pray that God's mercy and grace would come to their campus and spread to Georgia and the United States.
Their prayers were echoed at other Augusta-area schools, including Evans, Greenbrier and Harlem high schools.
The annual event, known as "See You at the Pole," started with a handful of students in Burleson, Texas, 10 years ago and grew to almost 3 million participants worldwide in 1999, according to organizers.
Lakeside junior Ethan Perkins, 17, started the prayer before sun-up with about 30 to 40 schoolmates. The crowd swelled as others, two and three at a time, joined in. Their backpacks littered nearby sidewalks.
Senior Adam Wint, 17, who prayed at the event for his fourth year in a row, said it was important to set an example for the school. Others might join the prayer or, if they do not know Christ, might ask about it, he said.
Senior Amy Legg, 17, also has prayed at the pole for all four years. She said it is "an opportunity to pray for those driving by."
Several pastors and parents came out to show their support for the 125 students gathered around the Harlem High School pole, said Mary Campbell, a teacher and sponsor for Y Club, a Christian service organization.
Seniors Kyle Davis and Kellie Tiller, both 17, brought doughnuts, milk and orange juice for the 100 schoolmates who gathered at Greenbrier High.
There are many non-Christians at the school, and meeting at the pole helps Christian students make a stand, Kyle said. "It is a challenge to witness to the others."
Praying at the pole "basically is putting God first, not just for one day, but every day," Kellie said.
The event at Evans drew 200 to 250 students, said Sgt. Albert Faison, JROTC teacher and a sponsor for Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Junior Joseph Register, 16, said the national event shows believers care for their schools and want to praise God.
Classmate Alli Hillman, 15, said, "God is working in our school. Maybe this year things will be different. We can change."
Rally on the Web
For more information, visit the See You at the Pole Internet site at www.syatp.com.
Reach Virginia Norton at (706) 823-3336.