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Aurora students show faith at the flagpole

West alum BrendDominguez center left raises her arms praise with other West students teachers as they gather around flag pole

West alum Brenda Dominguez, center left, raises her arms in praise with other West students and teachers as they gather around the flag pole in front of the school for prayer on Wednesday, September 26, 2012. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: October 28, 2012 6:59AM

AURORA — John Aldana closed his eyes, lifted his arms and prayed early Wednesday morning as he and nearly 80 others gathered around the flagpole at West Aurora High School. It was 6:30 a.m., and across world thousands of other students were taking a similar stance.

“Today is a worldwide event,” the West High senior said. “We’re here this morning to see what God is going to do, and hopefully lives will be changed by that.”

As they stood hand in hand, students, teachers, staff and community members united for one cause — to spread their faith as part of the annual See You at the Pole event.

See You at the Pole was initiated in 1990 as a global day of student prayer. What began as a grass roots movement with 10 students praying at their school has flourished. Twenty years later, millions pray on their campuses on the fourth Wednesday in September.

The event is a student-initiated, student-organized, and student-led prayer rally where students meet at the school flagpole before class.

At West High, Blackhawks of every color, creed and age rose early to be a part of the spiritual gathering. Footballs were tucked under the arms of athletes who draped their arms around girls with pink hair and boys in sharp leather jackets. For Brenda Dominguez, who graduated from West High in 2005, the sight was spectacular.

When she attended class at West, there was no Bible study group. These days, Breakthrough Bible study meets once a week, and allows students of all faiths to openly discuss their beliefs.

“Just because I didn’t have that (opportunity) doesn’t mean I can’t give it back to others,” Dominguez said.

She showed up with her husband, Paul, on Wednesday to take part in the event at the West flagpole.

“Three or four years ago, God came into my life, and he has shown his love,” she told a group of students. “I want to share that with you, even though I just met you right now.”

Dominguez said she came from a broken home, and had a hard time during high school. She said faith has helped her along her rocky road.

“Continue walking with us,” she said in prayer. “Do not let go of us. We need you.”

As they prayed together, tears streamed down the faces of students inspired by the solidarity of the moment.

“Let this not just be one moment,” Dominguez said. “Let your spirit touch us everyday.”

For sophomore Angel Juarez, Wednesday’s event was the beginning of something great.

“We’re here to do what’s good. To make change for the moment, for the year,” she said. “We want people to realize that they are not alone.”

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