SMITHS STATION, Ala.- Each morning at 7:25 central time, before the halls of the Smiths Station Freshman Center are full of students, they meet around a flagpole outside the school to take part in a prayer.
Students who want to participate gather round the flagpole hand in hand in prayer.
The group started back in September after J.P. Johanson lost his life after he was hit by a car. At first, there were only eight students, now there are more than 200 students who take part in prayers.
Roy Wright is the student who has the privilege of leading the group of students. He said that those who take part in the circle bring just as much faith to the circle as he does. For Wright, being able to lead the prayer group each morning is something he looks forward to. Those who take part in the circle bring just as much faith to it as he does.
“I just think that God gave me this opportunity,” Wright said. “God gave me this gift to speak to people, and I thank him for that. I thank him for letting it go on, for him to put the faith in peoples hearts to bring them around.”
Brad Cook is the principal of the Freshman Center. He has held that position for five years, and he said that there have been groups at the school that take part in prayer during lunch, but he said he has never seen anything like the prayer group at the school.
“We have programs here that try to get all kids involved in the school, but to see a student driven initiative like this that gets the kids engaged with themselves, their faith and the school at the same time is phenomenal to see these kids get involved like that,” Cook said.
Cook said since the circle is student-driven, they are allowed to do it. He adds that the faculty are proud of what the students are doing. He adds that there has not been any push back about what the students are doing, and he adds that they are lucky to have a supportive community behind them each step of the way. Cook said seeing the group gives him a great deal of pride. He added that freshman year can be difficult for students in terms of finding out who they are, and the center strives to make sure the students find their true identity.
Cook hopes that students who may be questioning where they are in life can find a place in the circle and feel accepted.
As for Wright, he started the group to make a difference in others lives, but he said that it is changing his and making him a better Christian. He hopes that the group will show others that prayer can happen anywhere.
“I just pray that the kids that see it understand that they can do it,” Wright said. “It’s not just here. You can praise anywhere, praise at your work, praise at your school, it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to pray at your school. God is giving you the opportunity to praise anywhere. We just chose to do it here.”