Marshfield and North Bend high schools will join others around the state in turning on their stadium lights Friday night as a way to honor their students at a time when they aren’t able to attend school on campus.
Both schools will turn the lights on in their respective football stadiums — Pete Susick Stadium at Marshfield and Vic Adams Field at North Bend — at 8:20 p.m. (20:20 military time in honor of the Class of 2020).
The movement apparently started in Colorado and was picked up by a few schools in Oregon. The concept took off in the state after Madras athletic director Evan Brown sent out an email statewide Wednesday morning, Marshfield co-athletic director Greg Mulkey said.
Brown promoted the idea as a way to honor the seniors and other athletes.
“This class will have endured and prospered in ways that have not been experienced in a lifetime,” Brown wrote. “Here at Madras High School, we want to say thank you to all of our students, and especially our student-athletes who have to date not had a spring sports season.”
Any chance of a spring season ended Wednesday when Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced that schools would remain closed to on-site learning through the rest of the school year.
Mulkey and North Bend athletic director Mike Forrester had bought into the idea before Kate Brown’s announcement, already planning to start this week.
“I bet I have 50 emails from different school districts,” Forrester said. “All over the state, people are going to do it.”
On the South Coast, that also includes Gold Beach, which started its weekly plan of turning on the lights Wednesday night.
“Panther Nation! We miss all of you,” athletic director Kevin Swift said in a tweet that included pictures of the lights at Gold Beach’s stadium. “These lights are a symbol of our love & support for you, especially the Class of 2020!! Be safe, take care of yourselves and we will see you again!!”
After Forrester got the email from Evan Brown, he did a little research on the concept.
“It started in Colorado,” he said. “It started with one high school, then went to four and 10 and kind of blew up.”
He sees it as a message of hope for everybody in a rough time amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think that it’s something that maybe, those people that can see it, maybe know that there is an end to this thing and we are going to get through it,” he said. “There is a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s something to look forward to. If it helps people, I think it’s a great idea.”
In Colorado, the concept started as a way to honor seniors, but it can extend far beyond that, Forrester said.
“I think it’s something that every kid in our school district can rally around,” he said. “We have a small community, people in our community can have something (positive) to remember about.
“We are going to have Friday night lights again. We are just going to have to wait a little bit for the real Friday nights.”
Some schools are turning on their stadium lights every night, but Marshfield and North Bend both have chosen Fridays, starting with 15 minutes this week, for the 15 days of school the students have missed so far.
The two schools will continue turning on the lights weekly, adding five minutes each Friday for that week’s five days of school.
“We’ll do it every Friday night as long as school is out,” Mulkey said.
Marshfield co-athletic director Floyd Montiel said Friday was a natural time to start.
“That’s when North Bend is doing theirs, so we can be a unified front,” he said.