Christian students 'come out of the closet'

September 18, 1997


Staff Writer

Students prayed Wednesday morning for the health of their school and teachers who have not been saved and called for a new Christian awakening during a "See You at the Pole" prayer service at North Hagerstown High School.

During the service, students said North High needs help with problems of drugs, sex and violence, and prayed that school administrators see God through them and change the school.

But students stressed that they just were not concentrating on their school. Junior Eric Zacot said people believe that living in the 1990s means anything is acceptable as drug abuse and homosexuality become more prevalent.


Zacot suggested to the estimated 30 students gathered around the flagpole outside North High that Christian students start their own movement.

"I think it's about time we come out of the closet," said Zacot.

The services are held annually at schools across the nation.

The first "See You at the Pole" prayer service was started eight years ago by students at a public high school in Texas, according to Ron Shank, youth pastor at the Maranatha Brethren Church in Hagerstown.

The morning service was held for the first time in Washington County in 1990 when students gathered for prayer outside Northern Middle School, said North High student Trudy Showalter.

The service, which has grown every year in the county, was held at every high school and middle school in Washington County Wednesday, said Shank. Adults also gathered for a similar service at the Washington County Courthhouse downtown, Shank said.

Although organizers could not say exactly how many students participated, Shank said hundreds of local students were involved.

The biggest turnout was at Williamsport High School, where 55 students participated, organizers said. Before going to North High, Shank said he was at Greencastle-Antrim High School in Greencastle, Pa., where about 60 students prayed and at Greencastle-Antrim Middle School where about 40 participated.

Other North High students and teachers walked past the students as they held hands in a circle and prayed. Assistant Principal Regina Sharp said the students had overstated the problems at the school. Sharp said she has never confiscated any drug paraphernalia in her three years at the school.

"I think the problems are minimal. We have a good school and a good student body," said Sharp.

Several students walking to school said the group is probably correct about the degree of problems at the school. North High sophomore Toni James said she hears a lot of talk about drugs in the hallways. Sophomore Lisa Hollar agreed there are problems at North High, "but I think they can be fixed."

Students took turns praying out loud as they stood in the circle. There would be moments of silence between prayers, and sometimes the group would sing gospel songs.

Nickole Stevens told her peers that one day she was told to leave the lunchroom because she wanted to pray before she ate.

Stevens said she hoped praying out loud at the flagpole would convince other students that they don't have to be afraid to speak out as Christians.

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