Teens keep up flagpole prayer expression
By Savannah Cooper
JEFFERSON CITY—The Bible verse I Samuel 3:10, which reads, “Speak, for your servant is listening,” was the basis for the “Connect” theme of this year’s See You at the Pole (SYATP) event, which was held Sept. 24 at Jefferson City High School.
SYATP is a prayer meeting. Students gather around a flagpole before school and pray for the needs of their campus, community, country, and world. The event is nondenominational and all-inclusive, bringing together Christians from every denomination and every walk of life.
Students met around 7:30 a.m. and began by singing praise songs like “Holy is the Lord” and “How Great is Our God.” Senior Miles Figg spoke before the prayer, urging students to be enthusiastic about God and his work.
Figg, who has been involved with SYATP since his freshman year, said that the annual prayer at the flagpole is one of the few ways Christian students can express their beliefs at school.
“It’s a good way to outreach and show what we support,” Figg said.
The right of students to gather and pray at school—outside of regular school hours—is a form of free speech and protected by the Constitution. In 1995 President Bill Clinton directed Richard Riley, then-Secretary of Education, to create a list of guidelines for “Religious Expression in Public Schools.” These guidelines specifically recognize SYATP gatherings as legal and constitutionally protected.
Since SYATP occurs before school, it is the equivalent of any club—religious or secular—and students have the right to participate in such a gathering. Organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Anti-Defamation League have also confirmed the legality of SYATP.
The event is an opportunity for Christian students to gather together at the beginning of the school year so they can support each other throughout the rest of the year. It is neither a worship experience or a sermon but simply a time of prayer and a time for young persons to connect with God.
It began in 1990 when high school students met at the flagpole of their school in Burleson, Texas. Last year more than 2 million American teens participated in the event, according to the National Network of Youth Ministries.