Since Tavi Schaller was in sixth grade, she’s felt called to lead her fellow students in prayer.

“Since my sixth-grade year, I’ve been in a Christian club,” Tavi, 16, said.

In eighth grade at Howell Middle School, she became president of the club, allowing her to expand her faith beyond weekly church services.

“Once I became president, I was able to teach and preach to the kids in that group. That really changed me,” Schaller said. “I felt God calling me back to being a part of something in school, and the community, spreading God’s word.”

Wednesday morning just after sunrise, Tavi, now a sophomore, was one of more than 40 students, teachers, administrators and youth leaders who gathered around Victoria West High School’s flag pole for the school’s annual See You at the Pole event.

See You at the Pole is a global day of student prayer that began in 1990 and was led by teenagers from Burleson. More than 45,000 students at high schools in four states participated in the first annual event, according to See You at the Pole’s website. Now, an estimated 1 million students participate in the event.

Brandy Garza, a youth minister at Sportsman’s Church, has handed out doughnuts at Victoria West’s annual prayer event for the last two years.

“It gives the kids an actual day and place and time for prayer,” Garza said of See You at the Pole. “You can pray any time any place anywhere, but sometimes that’s hard for kids to grasp, so I like that there’s a specific time set aside for that.”

During Wednesday morning’s prayer, Assistant Principal Lisa Rodriguez, who organized this year’s event, encouraged the students to use their daily moment of silence to pray.

At the end of the past school year, Tavi said Rodriguez approached her about leading the school’s faith group, Warriors for Christ, of which she is now president.

This isn’t her first time to be a student leader. In 2018, Tavi organized an autism awareness campaign in honor of her younger brother, Payne Schaller, who has autism.

“How could I possibly live up to my word and be enough for him? It’s not as if I can just snap my fingers and make the world a perfect place,” Tavi said in 2018. “Since I couldn’t make the world perfect for him, I decided to help be his voice as he navigates the world.”

This year, Tavi said she was praying for the strength to persevere through the hard moments intrinsic to teenage life.

“You know, the life of a high school student, it can be rough,” Tavi said.

When she’s faced with a problem, Tavi said she turns to God.

“I’ve learned to just praise him at all times and trust him no matter what happens,” Tavi said.

Morgan is the business reporter for the Victoria Advocate. She can be reached at (361) 580-6328, mohanlon@vicad.com or @mcohanlon.

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