CROSS RIVER, NY — With schools shuttered through the end of the academic year, districts are trying different ways to celebrate graduating seniors and athletes. One way that some schools around the country are putting the spotlight on the Class of 2020 which has been sidelined by the new coronavirus is "Friday Nights Lights.
It encourages schools to turn on the lights to a stadium and tell the outgoing class how special they are.
John Jay High School is one of the schols lighting up its athletic fields for 20 minutes each Friday evening beginning at 8:20 p.m — 20:20 in military time. The initiative honors the Class of 2020, which has been unable to celebrate so many of the traditional milestones.
“Welcome to Friday Night Lights!” said Chris McCarthy, director of health, physical education, athletics and wellness at the Katonah-Lewisboro School District in a video that appeared on social media Friday 8. He was standing on John Jay High School’s Contest Field alone, under the lights. The green turf and signature purple track made stripes behind him. Above him, the scoreboard brightly shown 20:20.
John Jay takes it a step further and personalize the celebration by dedicating individual Friday evenings to senior athletes on specific teams, with McCarthy hosting a short tribute from the illuminated field, recorded by his wife Tamra. Coaches are also there to give shout outs.
In the first video, senior athletes sent in pre-recorded video reflections, ranging in tone from remembering the smell of fresh-cut grass to throwing someone out at home. One senior sang "The Star Spangled Banner." All of the component parts were woven together by FNL editor-in-chief Geoff Curtis, one of John Jay’s baseball coaches.
The plan is to release each video on the Katonah-Lewisboro School District’s Facebook page at 8:20 p.m. each Friday.
“When I was younger, I always loved to watch my older siblings play, and I always wanted to be like them,” said softball outfielder Sarah Antunes in the May 8 tribute to the diamond sports. “I love the game and working with my teammates on the field.”
“They tell you when you make the team that these four years will go by in the blink of an eye,” said George Lombardi, John Jay’s pitcher. “Most people usually think that is not true and that they have plenty of time left. However, it couldn’t be more true. Before you know it, you’ll be playing your last game as a member of John Jay baseball. Take advantage of every opportunity you get and enjoy your time in baseball while it lasts.”
Watch the first video from Friday May 8 here on YouTube.
The remaining schedule is as follows:
- May 15: Lacrosse
- May 22: Track and Field
- May 29: Golf and Tennis
- June 5: all senior athletes