Community members encouraged to join by turning on their porch lights.
Classrooms are dark, but community care for students burns bright. That is the message of “Be The Light,” a movement that is lighting up athletic stadiums across the country, including at high schools in Klamath County’s two school districts.
The idea is for high schools to turn on their stadium lights at 8:20 p.m. (20:20 military time) for 20 minutes and 20 seconds to honor the Class of 2020. Community members are encouraged to join the movement by turning on their front porch lights in sync with their school’s stadium lights.
“It’s a message of hope and support,” said Klamath Union principal Tony Swan. “We want students to know they are in our hearts and minds. We begin at 8:20 to pay special tribute to the class of 2020.”
Schools statewide are closed through the rest of the academic year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Both school districts are rolling out distance learning plans and providing Chrome books and supplies to students who need them.
Klamath Union and Mazama high schools will illuminate their stadiums every Friday night starting April 10 for 20 minutes and 20 seconds. Henley High School will turn on its tennis court lights, which are visible from Highway 39.
The principals of Bonanza and Lost River, two of the county’s rural high schools, are turning their stadium lights on every night school would have been in session. The schools also are taking the movement’s acknowledgement of seniors a step further, and are leaving their lights on for one minute for every graduating senior. The lights will remain on for 41 minutes at Lost River and for 27 minutes at Bonanza.
“It’s important for our seniors to know that they are celebrated and that we are extremely proud of their accomplishments,” said Lost River principal Jamie Ongman. “These seniors are missing a lot of events and activities because of the pandemic, however their efforts and accomplishments are not less than classes that had all these events. Students have done the work to reach this point, and now it’s our turn to figure out ways to celebrate.”
Bonanza principal Jordan Osborn designates a member of the Class of 2020 to turn on the lights. A picture of that senior on the lighted field is then posted on the school’s Facebook page.
“I believe it’s more meaningful this way, and we want to include all our seniors in the process,” Osborn said. “This is a difficult time for seniors, and anything we can do support them we will do. It’s really about school spirit and community spirit in this unprecedented time.”
Chiloquin Junior/Senior High School will turn its stadium lights on for 30 minutes at 8:20 p.m. every Wednesday. The school’s #BeTheLight campaign on different nights will honor specific seniors, all students and spring sports.
Gilchrist Junior/Senior High School in far northern Klamath County does not have stadium lights, but community members are asked to support the school’s Class of 2020 by turning on porch lights at 8:20 p.m. for 20 minutes and 20 seconds.
Community members are reminded to follow the governor’s stay home orders and not to congregate near athletic fields.