See You at the Pole still a special event
Burleson High School sophomore Jaden Chandler blinked his sleepy eyes as he smiled. Though it was a little earlier than his typical rising time for school, he was happy to lose an hour or so of sleep on this particular morning.
“It was worth getting up for,” he said. “I’m having a good time. I’ve come a couple times before, but not since middle school.”
Jaden was one of about 200 Burleson High School students who got up early Wednesday, Sept. 26 to come to See You at the Pole at 7 a.m. The world-wide event that unites high school students in a morning of celebration and prayer at schools everywhere.
Annually, students from more than 64 countries, including such places as Canada, Korea, Japan, Turkey, the Ivory Coast, and of course, the United States, gather on a special morning for the event that is approaching its third decade of existence.
And it all started in Burleson. In 1990 a small group of teenagers gathered for a DiscipleNow weekend, and on that Saturday night, they drove to three different schools, gathering at the flagpoles to pray for friends, schools and leaders.
From there was born the name See You at the Pole. Within a year, on Sept. 12, 1990, at 7 a.m., more than 45,000 students in four different states met at their school flagpoles to pray before the start of school.
Thus began the annual event. At 7 a.m. on Sept. 11, 1991, an estimated one million students participated from the East Coast to the West Coast. Some sang, some read scripture, and all prayed.
Jaden said the event is also an opportunity for some students to get a sense of belonging.
“Some kids don’t have good families. They are dealing with divorces, hard times, and this offers support, kind of like a second family,” he said.
“I’ve been to all of them, and they keep stronger and better,” said Billy Beacham, who was at the very first one at the old Burleson High School campus and now who now works for Student Discipleship Ministries in Burleson. “We don’t do anything to perpetrate it. It’s the students growing it. It just spread on its own.
“We figured it would be over in a year or two, but it’s still going strong.”
As they have done throughout the years, students gathered in spite of the intense rains that were throughout north Texas that morning. At Burleson High School, however, the rain waited until after the event to arrive.
Either way, even had they been forced indoors, the students were determined to make the most of the day they had looked forward to all year.
“I find it really interesting that it all started here,” said senior Jacob Bledsoe, who helped organize the event. “My aunt graduated from here, and she probably did this.
“This is a really good opportunity for everyone to grow closer to God, especially those who are here for the first time and haven’t really been close.”
The morning included music by the trio Kara Dupont, Vegas Jankowski, and Cami Sky. Students took turns speaking to the crowd that included students, parents, and even some school officials who stopped by on their way into work. Topics ranged from thinking more about each other to praying for governmental leaders, and even including teachers.
“Teachers are really stressed, too, and you have to think about that,” junior Angelina Lambeth said in her speech about dealing with daily stress. “They stay up as late as we do, doing their homework, which looking at our homework.”
Burleson High School Nurse Brooke Jasa was among the staff who stopped by to take in the event on her way to school for the day. She said it was her first year to do so in the six she’s been there, and that it moved her.
“We have a hurting world, and the more we can come forward with things like these kids are doing, the more it can help,” she said. “It’s powerful to see these kids stand in their faith.”
Burleson High School Principal Wayne Leek issued a statement in which he said he’s glad to see traditions such as this continue.
“For years, our students have carried on the tradition of See You at the Pole, which began years ago at our former Burleson High School campus. This morning we had several Burleson High School students gather and pray at the flag pole in front of the school. As principal of Burleson High School, I am proud of the many traditions we celebrate with our community, and I know our students look forward to leading this event each year,” the statement said.
A recurring theme among those gathered was praying for teenagers and the challenges they face from their peers.
“Challenges are even more of a reason to have events like this,” said junior Zeijne Waks. “If you can stand up for what you believe, anything can be overcome, especially peer pressure. Show others you can stand up to it.”
Her brother, Liam, a freshman, added, “We’re kind of distracted all the time on our phones, but this brings everyone together for fellowship and a chance to share something we are all passionate about.”
Britt McCullough, their parent, said one of the best parts of the event is that it was completely organized by students.
“It’s a great way for youth to stand up in the negative light of the world,” she said. “It’s a great group of kids leading this. There was no adult telling them to do this, which says a lot about their initiative and direction.
“It’s refreshing to see this generation doing something so positive.”