More than 300 students in the McDuffie County School System and Briarwood Academy participated in the annual See You at the Pole to pray and sing before the school day began last Wednesday.
Pastors and youth ministers from several area churches also visited local schools to lend their support to what has become a national event.
Students gathered at flag poles on the campus of their respective schools and enjoyed scripture reading from the Bible and sang praise songs to God before school bells rang in for another day of classes.
The event, which first began in a small town in Texas by a few students in 1990, has now become nationally recognized. The event is not intended to be a demonstration, political rally nor a stand for or against anything, according to the See You at the Pole website.
In years past, a prayer rally and breakfast has been held at Thomson First Baptist Church but since classes begin earlier now, the event was canceled, said David Lambert, church youth minister.
At Dearing Elementary School, an estimated 70 students participated in this year's event. Lee Mims, a parent of one of the students that attends that school, led and organized the event in Dearing.
A group of teachers at Thomson Elementary School also participated.
The largest gathering of students within the McDuffie County School System took place at Thomson High School and Thomson-McDuffie Middle School.
David Harbeson, youth minister of Dearing Baptist Church said ministers and representatives of the following churches participated countywide: Thomson First Baptist Church, Dearing Baptist Church, Thomson First United Methodist Church, Marshall Baptist Church, Sweetwater Baptist Church, Old Frontier and Mount Tabor Baptist Church.
At Briarwood Academy, Steven Gunn, senior class treasurer and a star football player, welcomed students who gathered on the front lawn of the school. He also led a prayer.
Emily Henderson, senior class president and a star softball player, presented a speech entitled, The Blessings of Liberty .
Scripture readings followed and were presented by Maria Celeste Johnson, senior class vice-president and a star softball player; Ryan Pritchett, junior Tri-M chaplain and a star football player; Brandy Ray, junior class president; and Sara Betts, junior class vice-president.
Maggie Keene, senior class secretary, gave the closing prayer. Prayer groups later were formed and led by a host of seniors.
They included: Savannah Carani, Sierra Havrilla, Maggie Keene, Morgan Reese, Mary Ashley Gibson, Sarah Ann Phillips, Ryan Nelson, Steven Gunn, Tyler Edwards, Emily Henderson, Maria Celeste Johnson, Walker Hargrove, Hunter Lampp, Blake Sowell, Brandon Brewer and Matt McHatton.
The Briarwood Academy high school chorus performed Indescribable and Your Grace is Enough by Chris Tomlin.
The ceremony closed with the singing of God Bless America .
Maggie Keene and Matt McHatton accompanied the chorus by playing the piano and drums. Kristian Dawson and Taylor Smith, meanwhile, played guitars.
The entire student body of Briarwood Academy, including teachers, administrators and parents enjoyed a breakfast that was provided by the Briarwood Academy Booster Club and the PTB.