Prayer in School: See you at the pole?

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series Prayer in School
See You at the Pole at a Middle School

A See You at the Pole event at a middle school. While these events are “student initiated and student led,” they often involve adults as well—as in this case. Photo provided for public use via Wikimedia Commons by “TCWikieditor.”

“See you at the pole” is a student-initiated gathering of Christian students who meet at the schoolyard flagpole before the school day to pray and worship. Starting in 1990, it is now an annual event here and abroad.

Is this use of school property constitutional?

“See you at the pole” (SYATP) started as a small gathering in Texas. It grew into a global event. An estimated 1 million students in the U.S. participate, with see-you-at-the-pole events in many other countries. The SYATP website emphasizes that the event is “student-initiated, student-organized, and student-led”—a key to the constitutionality of the gathering.

Traditionally, a day in September is designated for the event. This year, it was September 24. A somewhat recent shift has been from a single day to a week of prayerful activities. The “Global Week of Student Prayer” this year took place from Sunday, September 21 through Saturday, September 27, 2014.

These events are permissible, and in their official capacities, school officials cannot discourage or encourage participation. The U.S. Department of Education explicitly addresses SYATP, stating that students may organize such events before school “to the same extent that students are permitted to organize other non-curricular student activities groups.” The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has also weighed in, and you can read their opinion here.)

Do “See You at the Pole” events take place in your local schools?

Do you know someone who participated?

Do you support such activities?

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