MINNEAPOLIS - A week ago Monday, high schools across the state of Minnesota lit their stadiums at 8 p.m. for at least 20 minutes.
The show of solidarity, also being done in Texas and Colorado, is to honor the class of 2020 as the academy year comes to a close. Except the students aren’t in school, confined to online classes as we’re quarantined in our homes due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Senior athletes in spring sports and other activities likely won’t have one final run before getting ready for college in the fall.
No state tournaments, no proms and most likely no commencement ceremonies for graduating seniors.
Last week, John Millea with the Minnesota State High School League called for schools to turn their lights on to honor those students. More than 250 schools responded, and communities lit up their football stadiums.
Monday night, more across the state did the same for at least 20 minutes. This time, TCO Stadium in Eagan joined in. The facility at the home of the Minnesota Vikings hosts high school football in the fall, playoff games and the High School All-Star Game.
Millea said last week he was astonished by the response from around Minnesota.
“It’s been phenomenal and I think part of it is people are looking for something positive to latch onto right now. This is a pretty dismal time with the Coronavirus shutting everything down, there’s no more optimistic place than a school and in Minnesota we’ve got all these great schools with great people,” Millea said. “You flip the lights on and it’s symbolic, it’s just a sign that your school is still here. It’s going to be here when you’re allowed to come back.”
Some of the participating schools Monday included Annandale, Underwood, Moose Lake, North St. Paul, Duluth East, St. Michael-Albertville, Rochester Mayo, Rogers, Eveleth-Gilbert, Forest Lake and Moorhead, just to name a few.
Hopkins High School is one of a few that plan to turn the lights on at their football stadium every night for 20 minutes to honor the senior class.
‘What we wanted to do is to make it symbolic by nature of letting our students know that we miss them and we want them back,” Activities Director Dan Johnson said.
We don’t know when sports will return, but the message has been sent that when the all clear is given, schools will be ready for students to return.