Aristotle once said “It is during our darkest moments we must focus to see the light.”
Amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, high schools across the Rio Grande Valley and the state of Texas decided to become the light by turning on their high school football stadium lights for an hour each night in a symbolic gesture of hope.
From as far west as Starr County through Hidalgo County, and all the way across the RGV to Cameron County, schools joined in and turned on their stadium lights Wednesday night. It’s the first time they’ve been used since the week of March 13, when the University Interscholastic League suspended all contests, activities and practices. The suspension of contests is set to run through May 4. For all athletes, especially seniors, the situation has been tough.
The trend started with Dumas High School, north of Amarillo, when Dumas ISD announced it would be “burning their stadium lights as a symbol of hope and an assurance that you are in our hearts and minds. To the great state of Texas, we challenge you to do the same. #BeTheLight.”
Rio Grande City Consolidated Independent School District was the first from the RGV to respond as they announced they would join in turning on the lights at Joe R. Sanchez Stadium, the home of the Rattlers. The lights go on from 8-9 p.m.
RGC athletic director Rey Ramirez said the idea was brought up by superintendent Vilma Garza, who proposed it to fellow school administrators. Ramirez immediately agreed to the showing of solidarity.
“We thought it was a great idea, so we took on the challenge to turn on the lights as a sign of hope for our community and for our neighboring school district and communities, to hold on to hope and to share this with all our students and athletes, to remind everybody we’re in it together. We’re one big family, and we’re in it together for the long haul,” Ramirez said.
Brownsville ISD, Donna ISD, Edcouch-Elsa ISD, La Joya ISD, La Villa ISD, McAllen ISD, Mercedes ISD, Mission CISD, PSJA ISD, Sharyland ISD, Valley View ISD, Weslaco ISD are among the RGV school districts that let their stadium lights shine in their respective cities.
Mercedes Tigers Stadium. Photo credit: @MercedesSchools/Twitter
“It’s to continue sharing hope and to remain together as a family. It’s great to see the support throughout the Valley, and hopefully it can spread across the state of Texas,” Ramirez said.
La Villa ISD school board president Noe M. Castillo Jr. shared the following message on his Facebook page.
“We, as a district and as a school board, want to reassure the student body that during this troubling time because of the coronavirus, the La Villa Independent School District will be their shining beacon throughout the darkness. We will also be turning on the baseball and softball stadium lights in recognition of our seniors whose year was cut short because of the pandemic. Rest assured we as a school district feel for the class of 2020 as they will be missing out on a lot of important events. I hope and pray that we will soon continue business as usual as a school district, but until then this is for you Class of 2020,” Castillo wrote.