PERU — Dozens of North Country students gathered this week around their school’s flagpoles, joining millions around the world for the Global Day of Student Prayer.
The annual prayer rally, called See You at the Pole, started with a small group of teenagers in Burleson, Texas, in 1990. On the fourth Wednesday of each September, students meet before school to lift up their friends, families, teachers, school and nation to God.
The First Amendment guarantees students the right to gather and pray on school grounds outside of instructional time and is a constitutionally protected form of free speech.
This year, about 40 students, parents and faculty members rounded the flag pole at Peru Central School early Wednesday morning for the student-led, student-driven initiative. High School Principal Christopher Mazzella was also in attendance.
“This is your school and your community, and we’re here to support you,” Tracy Posada, a physical-education teacher, told students.
The students prayed silently, while some adults offered prayers aloud.
“We ask that this school will be a safe haven for all ... Lord, I ask that each student will be able to find a friend, that they would be able to trust someone,” one said.
“We thank you for the blessing of this country, that we have the freedom to gather in your name, and we ask you to be with the leaders of this country, this region and the leaders of the world,” said another.
“I thank you for Peru School District. I thank you for all the teachers who are among us, for the children that are among us here,” another added.
“Throughout your day, just look around, because you are not alone,” Posada told the group after the prayer.
“A couple years ago, a young woman who moved here came to me and she said, ‘I feel like I’m the only Christian at school.’ And I don’t feel that’s the truth.