Students gather at pole for prayer

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 21, 2000

Staff Writer

Sept. 20, 2000 10 PM

About 80 Charles Henderson High School students gathered around the campus flag pole and prayed Wednesday morning.

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Like students all across the world, the Troy students participated in "See You at the Pole" Wednesday morning. Some 30 countries worldwide were making plans to participate in the event created to bring God and Christ into the schools.

In Alabama and the rest of the nation, the issue of prayer in schools has sparked controversy, but the importance of bowing one’s head in prayer was evident on the CHHS campus Wednesday.

Mark Ezell, president of Ichthus, the school’s Christian club, said Wednesday’s participation showed a spirit of Christianity.

"This was a lot more than just the norm," Ezell said, referring to the club’s weekly prayer meeting in the school parking lot.

"I think it’s extremely important," Ezell said of showing faith on campus.

"Since program and religion, as a whole, has been pulled from the schools, there has been an increase in violence."

His belief is the increase in hateful and violent acts is directly related to the elimination of prayer in the academic setting.

He is quick to point out religion is present in the school, but its expression is squelched.

"This does have an impact on people," Ezell said of events like the one held Wednesday morning.

Whitney Locklar said "something has got to be done within our schools.

"Something has got to change," she said referring to an increase in violence in schools.

CHHS student Karen Butler said programs like "See You at the Pole" are "real important" to making changes.

"If God is in the school, the same things won’t happen," Butler said of the increase in violence across the nation. "We shouldn’t wait to pray until after it happens."

For her, "See You at the Pole" shows Christian students they are not alone in their faith.

"It shows we’re not the only ones taking a stand for Christ," Butler said.

Her sister, Sarah Butler, said Wednesday’s event was opened with the reading of Bible versus, followed by different students offering prayers for the welfare of the students, faculty and staff and the ability to serve as witnesses to others.

"I prayed we make wise decisions this year," Sarah Butler said.

Ezell pointed out "See You at the Pole" last year was held just after the incident at Columbine and this year’s event fell just days after an incident on his campus during which a student was reportedly approached by unknown individuals.

He believes that incident last week made more students "more gung ho to be here" for the prayer meeting Wednesday.

"What happened here made many realize it can happen here," Sarah Butler said of the more widely known incidents of violence in schools.