PORT ANGELES — Stadiums across the North Olympic Peninsula and the state of Washington will light up at 8:20 p.m. Friday to honor high school seniors in the Class of 2020.
Schools statewide have been shut down since March 17 because of the COVID-19 pandemic and will remain shut down the rest of the school year. The spring prep sports season was canceled earlier this month.
Why 8:20 p.m.? In military time, that is 20:20 — a fitting time to honor those graduating this year. The lights will remain on for 20 minutes and 20 seconds.
Olympic League athletic directors from schools in Port Angeles, Sequim, Port Townsend and Kitsap County agreed to participate during a web meeting last Friday.
Forks also was included, and Athletic Director Kyle Weakley confirmed that the Spartan Stadium lights will shine brightly Friday evening.
“We wanted to be in solidarity and united for our student-athletes with one voice,” Port Angeles Athletic Director Dwayne Johnson said of the gesture.
New Roughriders football coach Brent Wasche got the ball rolling in Port Angeles, contacting the city of Port Angeles Parks and Recreation Department and earning city approval earlier this week.
Port Angeles School District requested that people should stay home, and avoid congregating at Civic Field or parading past the venue in order to follow the state’s stay-at-home, stay healthy order. The district’s Facebook page said photos will be taken of the field and shared for all to see.
Port Townsend and Chimacum high schools, which share Memorial Field in Port Townsend, received approval to turn on the lights at the Jefferson County-owned facility.
“We will have the Memorial Field lights turned on this Friday at precisely 8:20 p.m. (20:20 in military time) for 20 minutes as a small gesture of support for all 2020 spring sport athletes who missed out on their seasons,” Port Townsend Athletic Director Lysa Falge said.
Falge reminded fans not to gather at the field.
“There will be no opportunity to gather as we still need to respect social distancing guidelines, but we will ask folks to feel free to take a drive by the stadium and honk their horns to show their support for all the athletes who stayed home to keep us all safe,” Falge said.
Seniors in the Class of 2020 and their families also can participate at home, Johnson said.
“A recommendation was also made by Kingston AD Richard Henert to ask that 2020 Seniors and families turn their porch/outside house lights on during this time,” Johnson said.
“Many schools across the state and country have done this or are doing something similar.
“So we would turn on our stadium lights and ask that our athletes, students, families and community members follow and turn their lights on for the 20 minutes and 20 seconds.”
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or [email protected].