Local high schools participate in #BeTheLightMN

Albany High School recognizes the class of 2020 with a community lighting of the football field. Photo Credit: Tim Speier

On Monday, April 6 a local community gathered at Albany High School’s football field to support the graduating class. The town of Albany, Minn. (roughly 30 minutes from campus), showed support for their seniors by putting on the football field lights for 20 minutes. In addition, the Albany fire and police departments, along with the Avon fire department showed up and turned their lights on as well.

More than 75 cars came to the field and turned their headlights on as well. While people may not be able to physically gather due to social distancing guidelines, the community gathered in the safety of their vehicles. The event was put together by the school’s Athletic Director, Scott Buntje.

“This is a movement that I first saw on Twitter from John Millea. … And I thought it was a neat way to honor our students and staff,” said Buntje.

He also added that it grew into something that gave recognition to everyone in our community, and the support that has been shared.

Albany student council co-president Alexis Studniski, shared that the gesture was very much appreciated by students, but many seniors still feel like they are missing out on a lot.

“It’s only one quarter that [we’re] missing, but it’s also the best quarter… I am very sad to miss the major moments of my senior year like state knowledge bowl, prom, graduation, etc.,” said Studniski.

Cars line the football field as the community gathers for the lighting. Photo credit: Tim Speier

Like colleges across the nation, public k-12 schools are also continuing classes in an alternative format. Teachers have been working very hard to ensure their students are still getting the education they deserve. One of teachers, Sonya Hoffarth shares the impact she has seen COVID-19 have on her students and what the lighting of the field meant for them.

“Turning the ball field lights on for 20 minutes is just one small way, one glimmer of hope, that says we are still here, we are still a community, just on hold right now. The rows of cars shining headlights and rescue squad vehicles illuminating the Albany Area Schools campus united our Purple Pride community, even in this difficult time. The lights are not recognizing only our athletes: our baseball and softball players, our track athletes, and our golfers who are missing a season right now, for some their last season. With those lights, we are thinking about all our students: our music, drama, FFA, super mileage, robotics, and speech students. All of our students who fill our hallways, classrooms, and cafeteria everyday. For now, we will stay in our homes, knowing how important it is for each individual to do what is right, which is much easier to do knowing our purple pride community is in this together,” said Hoffarth.

As of April 6, more than 200 Minnesota high schools planned and/or held an event similar to the event that took place at Albany High School. Other schools around St. Cloud that have planned “Be the Light” events include Sauk Rapids, Tech, Apollo, ROCCORI, and Sartell.
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Anna Panek

Anna is a junior at St. Cloud State University and is double majoring in Math Education and Spanish Education, with a minor in Special Education. She is the Managing Editor for the University Chronicle this year. When she is not at campus attending class, working as a learning assistant or math tutor, or writing for the University Chronicle, she enjoys volunteering, reading, being overly competitive at board games, and telling horribly funny puns.

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