Stadium Lights Shine to Support Out-of-School Students

Brock Fritz Headshot

A high school stadium can light up significant portions of many communities in the United States.

With Americans being asked to stay at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of high schools are turning their lights on to students stuck at home that they aren’t alone.

The “Be The Light” movement started at Dumas High School in Texas. Dumas High School tweeted on March 24 that “every weekday night from 8:00 to 9:00 we are going to burn our stadium lights for you… as a symbol of hope and an assurance that you are on our hearts and minds. To the Great State of Texas: We challenge you to do the same.”

Dumas football coach Aaron Dunnam told KFDA that he and high school principal Brett Beesley started the trend to show kids they haven’t been forgotten while school is closed.

“I just wanted to give the kids a symbol of hope,” Beesley said. “That we as educators, we’re thinking about them, and that we love them, and that there’s gonna be better days on the other side of this.”

The idea spread through Texas and into other states, including Colorado, Wisconsin and Minnesota. According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Centennial High School brought the trend to Minnesota, lighting up its field on what would have been the first day of lacrosse practice.

John Millea, the Minnesota State High School League’s media specialist, told the Pioneer Press that more than 130 Minnesota schools had participated or planned to participate soon. Millea said the two complaints he’s heard about the Be The Light movement are that it’s a waste of energy and that people may attempt to gather under the lights.

“It’s a little bit like the bat signal. We don’t want them to come running or anything like that,” Park High School activities director Phil Kuemmel told the Pioneer Press, also noting that the lights would be on way more often if school was in session. “We hope the kids aren’t driving around, but if they’re in Cottage Grove and they see the lights, just to let them know, all of the district, all of Park High School, we’re thinking about you.”

“We’re going to get back to normal, and we’re all going to be in these stadiums cheering for our teams,” Millea said. ‘Who knows when, but we’re going to get there.”

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