This was Friday Night Lights of a different version.
At 8:20 p.m. (20-20 military time) on Fridays until the end of the school year, schools across the state will join in to honor the seniors who lost their spring season due to COVID-19 pandemic.
With a flip of a switch, ballparks, football fields, soccer fields and tennis court lights will be turned on for 20 minutes.
In the Boonslick area, Pilot Grove Athletic Director Derek Skaggs said the school will take part in the theme that has caught on “Be The Light” until graduation in honor of the seniors.
“We also lit up our scoreboards to say H-20 7 INN. V 20,” Skaggs said. “I think it is the least we could do in this time to honor them and several of the memories that they will not get to experience,” Skaggs said. “Seniors in the past decades never had to worry about cancellations of spring sports seasons, proms, plays, scholar bowls and various other events canceled throughout the state,” At this time everyone is wishing for commencements to happen as usual, but we know that is to be determined as well.”
Skaggs added that everyone has lot something due to the current circumstance among the world. He said that’s why the motto “Be The Light” is a wonderful one for these seniors.
“Instead of playing victim, they can remain the strength we will need and look at the positivity in the uneventful circumstances and help guide us to a better tomorrow,” Skaggs said.
Skaggs said he’s seen great response across the state in this knowledgement. He said people are lined in cars, honking and driving through the parks.
Boonville Athletic Director Chris Shikles said the school district is doing a number of things to honor the seniors who lost their spring season.
Although a decision has not been made whether the district will turn on the lights every Friday night, Shikles said they have done other things such as placing 28 banners of senior spring athletes on Main Street. The banners were purchased by the Boonville Booster Club.
Also in the works is a plaque of the senior spring athletes that will be placed in the commons at Boonville High School. In addition, Shikles said the district just recently starting putting profiles of the seniors on social media platforms.
“First of all my heart goes out to the seniors,” Shikles said. “That’s where my biggest concern is. They don’t get to have a senior spring season and it’s really nothing they’ve done. I just feel for them because you know they were looking forward to the season and now this.”
At New Franklin, which affected eight seniors, athletic director Ross Dowell said he really feels for the eight seniors.
“I feel for everybody,” Dowell said. “No one got to play. Tyler Perkins is not going to be running at state track. It’s not going to happen.”
Dowell said the ballpark lights were turned on last Friday by maintenance director Eric Chaney so people could drive through the park to honor the seniors.
“From what people told me on posts on Facebook is that this was nice,” Dowell said. “I think anyway we can honor them is nice. They didn’t even get a chance to participate in their activity and I feel really bad about that. Of course all of us would love to be doing activities right now. Like I said, anyway we can honor our seniors that basically lost a whole quarter of school and activities, prom and other things I think that’s a good thing.”
Dowell said one possibility that the school is thinking of is having the senior baseball players run to their position. Another possibility, he said, is projecting their number on the back of the new gym for an evening. “Until they lift the stay at home order, I don’t feel like we can do anything personally,” Dowell said.
At Prairie Home, which had only two senior ballplayers, athletic director Michelle Phillips said the district plans on turning the lights on every Friday night until May 13.
She said although there were only two seniors on the baseball team, people still drove by the ballfield and honked or stopped by the ballfield.
“I think it’s great,” Phillips said. “The senior athletes are missing such an important part of their high school career; playing one last time with their friends, postseason accomplishments, and so many other things. This is one thing that they can remember and know that the field is lit up for them.”
Phillips said the district is also planning on putting a salute to the seniors on the web site. “I’m not sure yet if we are doing a senior and teacher parade,” Phillips said. “We haven’t finalized this year but we’ll discuss it at the next board meeting.”
At Bunceton, softball coach Dustin Ray said the district had the lights on at 8:20 p.m. for 20 minutes and 20 seconds.
With five members of the Lady Dragons softball team never getting a chance to play their final season, Ray said several of the players were pretty tore up about it.
“I know a bunch of them asked me if there was a travel team that they could play on this summer just because they wanted to get a chance to play softball,” Ray said.
Ray said he also plans to post something on Facebook that the ballfield will be lit up at this time so everybody can drive by and pay respects to the seniors. He said he will also have all the senior jerseys hanging up in the dugouts.
“I think it’s great,” Ray said of everything schools are doing to honor the seniors. “It’s a good memory for them. It’s something that says, hey, you’re not getting what you want and what you deserve, but we’re still thinking about you. We’re still trying to make sure that you get the moment that was important to you.”