• 72°

Students take part in #039;pole#039; rally

More than a thousand students in Covington County gathered together Wednesday morning in various locations to share fellowship, faith, and a message of unity and compassion. The 14th annual See You at the Pole rally brought them together around the flagpoles of their schools, hands and voices

joined together.

"It's encouraging seeing students stand up for what they believe in, praying for their country, their teachers, their families and their friends," said Michael Walters, youth minister at Bethany Baptist Church, who helped coordinate this year's observance. "Its important because it gives kids a chance to get in touch with other kids at the school who are Christians and allows them to fellowship with them and associate with them throughout the year."

Walters, who has only been with Bethany for about 10 months, has been participating with See You at the Pole rallies for six years through various youth ministries. He has seen some changes in recent years.

"With adults, there's been an increased interest since 9/11," he said. "More teachers are showing up."

He said the student level of participation has remained the same. Walters oversaw the gatherings at Andalusia High School, Andalusia Middle School and Straughn. The number of students attending those observances were estimated to be 45, 200, and 110 respectively.

Bryon O'Brien, the youth minister at Westview Baptist Church in Opp who helped coordinate events there, said the turnout was excellent, with between 45 and 50 students at the high school, 70 at the middle school, about 150 at the elementary school and 150 at Fleeta.

"I think it breaks down denominational barriers, particularly on campus. It encourages the students to work together, seeing their campus as their mission field and allowing them to have compassion for their friends," said O'Brien, who has also been involved for about six years.

Pleasant Home estimated 75 students attended their ceremony, and about 30 students participated at Red Level School.

The grassroots prayer event began in Texas in 1990 and has spread across the country. It coincides with the world-wide Youth Prayer Week, Sept. 14 to 20 this year.