• 63°

200 students gather to pray at D-B

COAL GROVE – More than 200 Dawson-Bryant Middle School students joined hands and prayed for their safety, as well as the safety of other students throughout the nation Wednesday.

Thursday, September 16, 1999

COAL GROVE – More than 200 Dawson-Bryant Middle School students joined hands and prayed for their safety, as well as the safety of other students throughout the nation Wednesday.

The gathering was part of Fellowship of Christian Athletes National Recognition Day, said Kara Speed, FCA sponsor.

The FCA organization has been in existence at the high school for a few years, but this is the first time the middle school students have wanted to form their own branch, Ms. Speed said.

"After the Columbine incident last year, the kids, the guidance counselor and I got together to try to find a way for the kids to join together and talk," she said. "This morning we had a prayer huddle, and I would say there were way over 200 kids out there in a big circle holding hands. They prayed about having a safe school year, for the Columbine High School students, for the teachers, athletes, football team, cheerleaders and any student who might have illness in their family."

In today’s society, children need encouragement to do what’s right, eighth-grader Taylor Willis said.

"We thought it would help people," Miss Willis said. "You always hear people talking about each other and the devil. This club will give them a backup, to help them do good things. The FCA gives kids people to talk to about things and hang with so they don’t get into trouble."

The group provides an outlet for frustrations, said Aaron Fields, an eighth-grader who led Wednesday’s prayer.

"Praying and asking someone to help them – it makes them fill good to let it all out," Fields said. "Prayer groups are something they used to have a long time ago, and we thought it would be good to start it back. It brings back your faith when you know other people have the same problems."

Doing something active also helps the students feel like they are doing something to prevent another Columbine High School shooting, he added.

"It keeps us all from thinking about bad things," he said. "When they heard the gun shots, everybody got down and started to pray together. It makes them feel more protected. You want to feel that someone is watching over you and God gives you that feeling."

Not everyone might feel that way, however. And that’s OK, both Miss Willis and Fields said.

"Everyone’s invited," Fields said. "But if you don’t want to do it, you don’t have to. We’ll do it in a private place and nothing will be announced. Nobody’s forced into doing it."

But almost all of the middle school students joined in Wednesday’s first prayer meeting, which surprised both teens.

"There were so many people they took up half the front lawn," Fields said. "There were a lot of people there – some people I didn’t expect to see there."

The FCA program is for anyone, though, Mrs. Speed said. Athletic membership is not even required.

"It’s not just athletes," she said. "It’s athletes working for Christ – so it’s for everybody in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades."

The group will continue to hold prayer meetings Wednesday mornings on the stage, and there will be a girls’ lock-in from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Friday before the game.

Other afterschool activities will be planned, as well.