Hermantown activities director Beth Clark noticed the “Be the Light” campaign taking off on Twitter last week and wanted her school to be a part of the movement that has spread across the country as a way for schools and communities to provide a symbol of hope during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But Clark knew lighting up Corey Veech Memorial Field wouldn’t be a good idea because of the football stadium’s secluded location behind the high school.
“That night I got an email from a parent that said we could use the baseball field, and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s perfect,’ ” Clark said of Fichtner Field, located at the intersection of Maple Grove and Ugstad roads. “I got in contact with city officials because that’s a city field, and it wasn’t a problem because the city’s been great to work with.”
City officials remotely flipped on the lights at Fichtner Field at 8:20 p.m. Monday for 20 minutes and 20 seconds — honoring the 2020 graduates — and will do so every Monday during April and May.
Public Schools Stadium and Ordean Stadium in Duluth, along with football fields in Proctor, Cloquet and Two Harbors were among those that did likewise Monday night.
“Hermantown was the first (in the Northland) to get on board with it,” Cloquet activities director Paul Riess said, “and we said that was a good idea to show support to the schools, the communities, all the emergency workers and, especially, to the seniors who will miss out on a lot of things if school doesn’t come back in session.
“It’s just something to show that we’re thinking of you at this time and, hopefully, we’ll get things back to normal.”
The movement first began in Texas in late March and progressed like wildfire on social media. Twin Cities-area schools picked up the mantle and then it moved northward, helped along by the tweeting efforts of John Millea, the Minnesota State High School League’s media specialist.
“It seemed like a southern Minnesota thing when I first saw it on Thursday and then it started creeping more north and west,” Clark said. “We jumped on board, and then Cloquet and Proctor did. It’s pretty cool.”
With schools shuttered and shelter-in-place orders still applying in Minnesota and advised nationwide, the idea of spring sports is a longshot.
“It’s not looking too optimistic, especially when they are talking that there’s only a slim chance that school will be back in session,” Riess said. “That’s not good for spring sports.”
Clark acknowledges that it’s been a difficult spring all around, but is hopeful students can use it as a life lesson.
“Not just the athletes but the whole student body, our staff and the community. It affects everybody,” she said. “This shows that we’re thinking about you and that it’s a tough time, but we’ll be better because of it. It’s never a good thing when kids are missing out on opportunities, but at the same time we also have to learn with disappointment. It’s one of those life skills that you don’t want to use, but at some point you have to be able to deal with those situations that you can’t control.”