At 7 a.m. Wednesday about 60 students gathered at the front of Carson High School for "See You at the Pole" day. It is an event first enacted 11 years ago by the Supreme Court allowing for organized student prayer outside of regular school hours.
"It gives the youth an opportunity to pray for their school, faculty, fellow students, and show their faith," said Karen Simms, Carson High School faculty adviser.
Simms is also an advisor to the Youth of Fire Christian group and a world history and American government teacher at the high school.
Simms said she has neither seen nor heard any negative comments or reactions from other students who choose not to be involved.
Students dressed in jeans, shorts, skirts, T-shirts and dresses, hair neatly combed or jelled and still wet from their morning shower, huddled closely together smiling on their classmates as they sang.
Led by Youth of Fire President Jacob Musselman, a a Carson High senior, the morning opened with a prayer and song. Jacob readied the students with song sheets and with a strong, commanding voice, led all in verse with "Lord, I lift Your name on high."
The students then broke into prayer groups of 10. They prayed for fellow students, their families, teachers, the student body, the government, and thanked God for the freedom they have in this country to pray. One young woman prayed aloud she was happy to share how awesome it is being a Christian today.
"Everyone here has taken a big stand today in showing their faith," said Jacob. "It is our chance to take the opportunity to make disciples of all men and nations."
By 7:40 a.m., about 100 students were praying and singing. Their backpacks were placed neatly in a row around the stone and marble base of the flag pole.
"It's encouraging to see the students want to step out and make a stand. They can get a lot of flack from other students for doing this. I've seen Youth of Fire grow tremendously in the last four years. I think God's doing something in the students' hearts right now."
Three students read aloud passages from the Bible, then everyone moved into a giant circle to sing again and share a closing prayer. As they echoed each verse sang by Jacob, several students put their arms around each other and swayed to the rhythm.