‘There’s light at the end of the tunnel’

by Dylan Greene
Sports Editor | April 8, 2020 1:00 AM

SHS, CF join nationwide campaign to honor 2020 senior class

SANDPOINT — High schools around the state are banding together to honor the 2020 senior class amidst the novel coronavirus pandemic and Sandpoint and Clark Fork are joining in.

On Friday at 8:20 p.m., War Memorial Field, the Clark Fork football field and outdoor stadiums around the state will turn on their lights for 20 minutes to show their appreciation for the senior class, families, coaches and athletes as part of the “Be the Light” campaign.

“The lights are a beacon to show we are thinking of them and to remind them there will be a time where we will be all together again,” Sandpoint Athletic Director Kris Knowles wrote in an email.

The “Be the Light” campaign has been spreading across the nation from Montana to Minnesota as schools look for a way to celebrate their graduating seniors who are having their final memories in high school stripped away due to the outbreak.

The campaign grew traction in Idaho following the State Board of Education’s decision Monday to extend the statewide soft closure of schools until the end of the academic year. The board left the option open for local school districts to reopen before the end of this year but they have to meet a criteria that has yet to be determined.

Knowles said he was included in an email Monday asking if the school would participate in the celebration. He then reached out to the city and got their approval to flip the switch on the stadium Friday night.

Knowles said the idea started with trying to recognize the senior spring sports athletes who will likely have their seasons canceled in the coming days but quickly expanded to include the entire senior class.

“We’re welcoming everybody,” Knowles said. “I think all seniors are essentially getting robbed of the last part of their senior year.”

Families in the area are being encouraged to drive by the fields in Sandpoint and Clark Fork during the 20 minute period to celebrate seniors and if you decide to walk past the venues, make sure to maintain a safe social distance from one another.

Knowles heard that some people were planning on going on War Memorial Field to celebrate and wanted to make it clear that all access to the stadium will be closed and no one is allowed on the field. The same goes for Clark Fork.

Clark Fork Athletic Director Brian Arthun said hopefully this event helps students and their families during these uncertain times.

“It’s just a really nice gesture to let them know that yeah it’s a dark time, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

Knowles said several parents are planning on putting signs along the fence line at War Memorial Field and he is working on getting inside the press box and playing the fight song as people drive by.

“Hopefully its a cool tribute, they deserve it,” he said.

Arthun, who is also the physical education teacher at Clark Fork, has missed interacting with students in person over the past few weeks.

“I really love working with kids so not being able to see them or be around them, it’s just not the same,” he said.

Priest River Athletic Director Matt George said the school would love to participate in the statewide campaign but currently there are no lights at the football stadium because the poles were taken down early this winter due to safety concerns.

Arthun believes students and athletes will cherish the memories they were able to make with their classmates and teammates over the past few years even more due to the coronavirus.

“They’ll hopefully appreciate them because life can take things away from you,” he said. “Some things are just out of your control.”

If you take any photos during the event Friday, you are encouraged to use the hashtag #BeTheLightID in social media posts.

Dylan Greene can be reached by email at dgreene@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow him on Twitter @DylanDailyBee.