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Area students participate in international prayer event

September 22, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN

karenh@herald-mail.com

Among the books she normally carries from class to class at South Hagerstown High School, Keisha Patterson's thoughts Wednesday revolved around the words in just one: her Bible.

Patterson held open a black nylon binder as she studied her Bible, quoting verses as she led a group of students and staff in a group prayer before school.

Students at the annual See You at the Pole event said they were praying for flood victims, grandparents, soldiers and each other.

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Links on a green paper chain of prayer requests left on the flagpole when the group dispersed revealed participants' secret wishes - "Direction and God's guidance in my life," "My life/Army," "A new home."

Fifteen years after a small group of teenagers in Texas first stood in prayer outside their schools, See You at the Pole has grown to an international event, according to its Web site, www.syatp.com. The student-led prayers have occurred before school on the third Wednesday of September, according to the Web site.

Patterson, 18, said the prayer event is an opportunity for students to serve as disciples to one another.

"I think it's important to get everyone together because everyone ... everyone needs God, and everyone needs Jesus," Patterson said as youths began gathering around the school's flagpole.

About 40 people, including students, high school staff and adult members of local Christian congregations, listened as event organizers Patterson and Maggie Stone, a 16-year-old junior, read verses from their Bibles.

Three boys stood in a line using their friends' backs to write their prayer requests on green slips of paper distributed during the event.

Freshman Tony Burt, 14, said he was praying for his grandmother, who is recovering from surgery. A former San Antonio resident, Tony said Hurricane Rita also was on his mind.

Prayers for school, family and friends were added to the growing chain, which was hung from the bottom hook of the flagpole:

"Pray for all the soldiers in Iraq"

"The Band Kids"

"Pray for the two biker friends I lost due to accidents that weren't there fault" (sic)

Like several other adults at the flagpole, Lonnie Dunbar, a U.S. Army staff sergeant stationed at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md., said he came to South High to show his support for the students' event.

"I wanted to be an example. I just wanted, I wanted to be part of it, and I just think it's a real good thing, seeing as how our nation seems to be against God," Dunbar, 23, said.

Less than an hour after most participants gathered around the flagpole, Patterson and other organizers brought everyone together for one final group message.

Patterson praised Jesus Christ as her "stronghold and our refuge," and she asked God for wisdom and healing.

"I rebuke any demons that have their hands over my friends. I rebuke any demons that have their hands over my school. I claim this school for Jesus," Patterson said, gesturing and pacing as she spoke in the center of the students.

Holding hands in two entwined circles surrounded by book bags, ball caps and a cup of coffee, the youths outside the high school bowed their heads in prayer.

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