SALISBURY — Sixth-grader Alyssa Carmitchel looks forward to Fridays at school, but not for the reason most students do.
The 11-year-old doesn’t anticipate Friday because it’s the last day before the weekend.
For her, it’s simply the day she gets to see her prayer buddy, 4-year-old Kylie Bailey.
Although the girls are seven years apart in age, they have become good friends in the span of less than six months.
Each Friday morning, older students at North Hills Christian School travel from their classrooms across campus to spend about 10 minutes with elementary students.
Before they bow their heads to pray together, the children talk about their week, their families, their concerns and what they are looking forward to.
For Alyssa, those short conversations have given her a unique insight.
“I like to see how she thinks about things because it’s really, really different than how I think,” she said of Kylie.
Alyssa said she’s enjoyed getting to share her faith with someone so much younger than her.
“I’ve loved teaching her how to pray and what praying is all about,” she said.
Head of School Matt Mitchell launched the prayer buddies program in August.
“There’s a really neat hunger from the older kids to mentor the younger kids, so we were talking as a leadership team about ways to do that and foster that and decided that this would be a very positive interaction for the kids,” he said. “There has definitely been a neat spiritual awakening in our high school student body.”
Mitchell said the school had to lengthen the school day to incorporate time for the program.
“We were concerned there would be some potential push back, but there’s been none,” he said. “It’s been really great.”
Teacher Doris Plummer said initially she wasn’t sure if the program would work.
“I was a little skeptical about whether or not middle schoolers were going to be able to be the role models,” she said. “It’s so beautiful because it does call them to step up to a level of maturity that a typical middle schooler wouldn’t be staring into at this point.”
Plummer said she’s enjoyed seeing the students flourish spiritually.
“They are seeing that relationships are a big part of your faith,” she said. “It’s not just about having God in their hearts; it’s realizing that Christ calls us to love others and be involved in the lives of others.
“Faith is truly becoming a part of everyday life around here, and that’s really neat to see.”
Senior Adam Broyles said it’s been a lot of fun working with third-graders Aaron McGrail and Dakota Siegmund.
“I enjoy doing it,” he said. “I think it’s a way that we show the love of Christ to the younger generation and influence them.
“I just hope the little kids enjoy this and gain the knowledge that we do care for them and want them to have a good spiritual outlook for life.”
Jared Smith, a senior who has three elementary prayer buddies, said he’s learned a lot from the younger students.
“They showed me how to approach God like a child with humanity and sincerity,” he said. “It’s been a blessing to be able to share the God that I’m so passionate about.”
Plummer said the program is allowing the school to mold a different kind of student.
“God is no longer just a compartmentalized Sunday thing or even a Bible class thing. It’s part of all their relationships,” she said. “Everybody shares everybody else’s needs, and that’s what the body of Christ is supposed to look like.
“Their faith is going to be active and alive throughout their lives. These kids are growing up with a completely different look at what Christianity is all about.”
Contact lifestyle editor Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.
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