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La Conner High seniors bask in glow of Friday Night Lights

It was a rare bright shining moment last Friday for a La Conner High senior class whose school hallways remain darkened by nationwide campus closures through the rest of the academic year in response to the COVID-19 threat.

The stadium lights at Whittaker Field were turned on for 20 minutes at 8:20 p.m. – 20:20 military time – to honor the Class of 2020 whose members won’t walk the stage in traditional commencement exercises in June.

The “Be the Light” event, which began in Texas and quickly spread across the country, took on a distinctly La Conner flavor here.

Teachers donning cloth masks and maintaining social distancing lined a section of North Sixth Street, in front of the baseball field, holding placards that spelled out “We Miss You” as La Conner High seniors drove past.

The seniors and their families and friends gathered in vehicles in the school parking area, then looped the lot with horns and sound systems blasting in the glow of lights usually reserved for football games and soccer matches.

The sports imagery could not have been more apparent. All were longing for when scoreboards will read fourth-and-19, signifying COVID-19 is on its final down.

But Friday helped take away the sting of missing out on traditional springtime senior activities like outdoor athletics, concerts, stage plays, prom and graduation.

At least a little bit.

“It’s all good,” said senior Morgan Sidzyik, who briefly peered out from her open sunroof. “It’s a chance to see everyone.”

“It’s not how I expected things to go,” classmate Mason Miles said through a protective cloth mask as he sat in his driver’s seat. “I don’t know quite how I feel about it yet.”

But he, Sidzyik and other class members made the most of the moment.

They were celebrated by La Conner Hook & Ladder, which circled the parking lot with an ambulance and two fire engines, each with lights flashing and sirens blaring.

And it wasn’t just because Addie Reinstra, daughter of fire chief Aaron Reinstra, is a member of La Conner’s Class of 2020. “Be the Light” was also designed to show support for emergency services workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was so good to see the fire department come out and roll through the parking lot,” said La Conner Schools Athletic Director Kathy Herrera, whose older daughter, Morgan, is a graduating senior.

The family of senior Charlie Cram (including a new Springer Spaniel pooch) turned the Way Back Machine to the mid-70s by playing some classic Earth, Wind & Fire inside their SUV as they waited their turn to join the parking lot serpentine.

“I’m glad it’s a pretty good turnout,” said Charlie’s mom, Lynette Cram. “It’s pretty neat to be able to do this for the class.”

The celebration went smoothly considering that with a statewide “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order in effect there was no opportunity to rehearse beforehand as would be the case prior to graduation ceremonies.

Though minus a practice lap, all who took part were able to step up and put the spotlight back on La Conner High’s Class of 2020.


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