Hundreds of middle and high school students across Hall County will gather at their school's flagpole early Wednesday morning, coming together through one divine force - God.
Started in 1990 in Dallas, Texas, with 20,000 students meeting in prayer, See You at the Pole has grown to national and international proportions. Wednesday, students from Gainesville High School, Hall County high schools and even Gainesville State College will congregate at their school's flagpoles before school to pray for their friends, teachers, schools and country.
They'll be holding hands in Hall County while 3 million other students nationwide do the same. Students from more than 20 countries will also meet in prayer, including teenagers in Guam, Canada, Korea, Japan, Turkey and the Ivory Coast.
Jason Lester, area director for Gainesville/Hall County Fellowship of Christian Athletes, said 18 area FCA school captains will be leading their fellow students in prayer starting at about 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday. FCA is a religious organization that seeks to spread the word of God through schools via athletics.
"Some will sing, some will have folks that come in and share a little bit, but the main thing will be the time of prayer," Lester said. "I think See You at the Pole is an event that a lot of those teachers and administrators feel like they can participate in. And it's before school, so you're not stepping on any toes or crossing any lines."
Katie Canaday, a high school junior, serves as the FCA captain for Chestatee High. She said she plans to lead a short worship service for See You at the Pole. Students will sing a couple of songs before breaking up into smaller prayer groups. She said Chestatee High FCA students came up with a prayer list for the day.
"We're going to pray for our school, teachers, administrators, our nation, our president, our new president and people who don't claim Jesus as their personal lord and savior," she said.
Canaday said she hopes for about 90 students to show up at the pole.
She said she's grateful for the opportunity to pray on campus, which bucks the status quo.
"I think it's a great opportunity that we're given by (our principal). I'm very appreciative. I think it's a great thing we're allowed to do," Canaday said.
Blake Anderson is a business teacher at Chestatee High and is the school's FCA sponsor. He said the invitation to participate in See You at the Pole is open to anyone in the community who believes in the power of prayer.
Anderson said he hopes See You at the Pole will lure those kids who don't consider themselves "goody-good kids" to join their peers in prayer. He aims to bring into the FCA community kids at risk of abusing alcohol or drugs or nearing deep depression. He aims to give them hope.
"You know what, it doesn't matter who you are or where you come from," Anderson said. "The bottom line is that Jesus Christ loves you and he accepts you for who you are. And that, that's where the hope comes from, and that's what we hope to be able to achieve through this."