LAST WEEK many students across the county met at the flagpole in front of their schools and prayed. They prayed for fellow students, for teachers and for national leaders as part of a nationwide prayer movement called See You at the Pole (SYATP).
Since 1990, students in Carroll County have participated in this annual Christian prayer gathering, which takes place before the school day begins on the third Wednesday of September.
Wednesday morning was damp and drizzly, but that didn't keep about 120 students from gathering outside Westminster High School; 70 students prayed together at Liberty High School and similar numbers gathered at other county high schools.
Thanks to the efforts of the youth pastor at Westminster Baptist Church, Vernon Hallis, and other members of the congregation, SYATP made its way into the middle schools this year and, for the first time, at Faith Christian School in Westminster.
Hallis, a math teacher at Liberty High, asked parents who had middle school pupils to introduce SYATP to their schools. In some schools, posters went up and wristbands promoting the annual gathering were distributed.
This year, from five and 30 pupils gathered outside each middle school to pray, and organizers expect those numbers to increase each year.
"It's very fortifying to see other Christians together at the school," said Hallis. "People from the community joined us -- it was wonderful. A lot of students don't know who the other Christians in school are. Now they know that they are not alone."
"I had some students ask about my wristband, so I just told them that SYATP is when a bunch of students get together to pray for other people and important events," said Doug Mason, a junior at Liberty High and a member of the youth group at Westminster Baptist Church. "My friends who are fellow Christians wanted to participate. Some students had no reaction, and others were adamant that this shouldn't be part of public schools.
"But those students just don't understand the power behind it, the sense of peace," Doug said. "It makes you want to reach out more to them and pray for them."
More than 30 pupils held hands and prayed outside Faith Christian School Wednesday.
"See You at the Pole at Faith Christian showed true commitment," said Kelly Rumbaugh, the school's physical education teacher who, with Brian Smith, youth pastor of the First Assembly of God, helped pupils organize the event.
"Students gave up their sleep and stood up for what they believed in. It was a powerful witness to anyone who drove by and saw us holding hands around the cross," Rumbaugh said. "We don't have a flagpole, but being around the cross on a drizzly day made it more poignant."
"It's amazing seeing so many people gathered in one place for this reason," said Scott Dearden, son of Christy and Andy Dearden and a student at Liberty who has participated in SYATP for six years. "Just by being there, we are testimony."
Buy a Brick
Whenever volunteer firefighter Robin Stansbury gives tours of the new Westminster fire station, he finds himself scanning the entrance wall for the brick bearing the name of his father.
His mother and other family members have discovered that the fire department's Buy a Brick campaign is a nice way to honor a loved one and contribute to a good cause at the same time.
More than 100 people have participated in the Westminster Fire Department's fund-raiser by donating $100 for a brick with a brass plate bearing inscriptions such as "Donated by," "In honor of," or "In memory of"
"We hope to sell enough bricks to span the 10-foot-by-8-foot wall between the museum and the engine house," said Capt. Bob Schultz. "There has been all kinds of interest -- from businesses, families and individuals. This campaign is a great way to show support for a loved one as well as the community fire department."
Lisa Breslin's Central neighborhood column appears each Monday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.
Pub Date: 9/20/99