The event, according to the See You at the Pole (SYATP) organization, is held on the fourth Wednesday of September each year. This year marks the 21st annual event, which falls on Sept. 22.
People from all over the world took part in See You at the Pole today. THANK YOU to all of those who participated. We pray that God performs miracles through your obedience. #syatp pic.twitter.com/3sk94iBvLp
— See You At The Pole (@SeeYouAtThePole) September 22, 2021
The prayer rally is meant to “lift up their friends, families, teachers, school, and nation to God,” SYATP said. It is usually held before school and at the school’s flag pole, with students in elementary school through college all around the globe. Adults often pray in support of the students on campus by gathering nearby, at their places of work or worship, or at city halls.
There is no sponsor for the student-organized and student-led event, according to SYATP, although a diverse group of about 100 church denominations, ministries, and organizations are listed as “supporting ministries” who promote, endorse, or otherwise support the movement.
Students at Oak Mountain Middle School are gathering for See You at the Pole today. It’s an annual event where students come together to pray for their community, country, and world. pic.twitter.com/7VyeE5ZL8I
— Jonathan Skinner (@jskinnertv) September 22, 2021
— Putnam County Schools (@PutnamWVSchools) September 22, 2021
With schools switching to virtual instruction and varying public health restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many SYATP organizers last year moved the event online on Sept. 23, 2020, to pray for their communities. This year, however, many participants chose to meet in person.
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“We prayed over our school, our community, our state, and our country,” the Fellowship of Christian Athletes group at Forest High School in Ocala, Florida, wrote on Instagram along with images of their prayer event. “We prayed over students who are going through things we will never understand. We prayed over an amazing student going through surgery this morning. We prayed over being a light through the hallways of this campus.”
According to the latest guidance by the U.S. Department of Education, it is a student’s constitutional right to engage in voluntary prayer that doesn’t disrupt the school’s educational programs or activities. Students also have the right to organize prayer groups, religious clubs, and SYATP rallies, to the same extent that they are permitted to organize non-curricular activities groups.
“Nothing in the Constitution prohibits any public school student from voluntarily praying at any time before, during, or after the schoolday,” read the federal guidance, which was updated last year under former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. “Students may pray with fellow students during the school day on the same terms and conditions that they may engage in other conversation or speech. Students may also speak to, and attempt to persuade, their peers about religious topics just as they do with regard to political topics.”