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    Julia Crane
    Julia Crane
    Julia Crane, a paid intern at The Times-Independent, is a senior at Grand County High School. She reports on local education and more.
    Members of the Grand County High Class of 2020 spent a few Fridays under the school’s stadium lights getting in some much-needed social interaction during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that, among other unprecedented actions, closed schools statewide. Above from the left are writer Julia Crane, Jessie Anderson and Dallin Stucki. Courtesy photo

    Due to a pandemic-shortened academic year for the Class of 2020, Grand County High School staff decided to give seniors one last honor. Two schools in Michigan inspired the idea.

    “This idea to shine stadium lights on Friday was an idea of two small school districts in Michigan,” said Ron Dolphin, athletic director.

    On Friday nights the lights to the football stadium were turned on for a designated amount of time, allowing seniors to come to the school parking lot and enjoy the glow. “The goal was to honor the class of 2020 with symbolic time with the lights for two Fridays. We did it here in the same manner for four continuous Fridays,” said Dolphin.

    Student government members supplied cold drinks and glow sticks, and on Friday, April 17, seniors lined the parking lot in their own cars. School staff attended to regulate the event and attend to the lights. Students still needed to abide by the rules of social distancing.

    “Every Friday night I am able to spend time with my friends that otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to see. It’s a freeing feeling to be surrounded by people you love, and have the time to really appreciate it during this time of social distancing,” said Emma Millis, a senior.

    Seniors have been grateful for the time to spend with fellow students. “So far it’s been fun,” said senior Evan Ellison. “I’ve really enjoyed being able to see everyone even from a distance and connect with everyone in person. Some of us haven’t seen one another in nearly two months, so any chance to say hello and catch up is one most students jump at.”

    A banner for the seniors was put up as well, and it was visible during the lighting session. “We planned to have a banner recognizing the Grand seniors for the first lighting of the stadium but it didn’t arrive,” said Dolphin. “I ended up creating a paper banner for the seniors, and hanging it on the press box for the first two weeks until the purchased banner arrived,” said Dolphin.

    Sitting in their cars was great fun the first few times, as students started coming up with other things to enjoy on Friday nights while abiding by the rules. Chalk was supplied, and by the light of the football stadium they covered the high school parking lot. Extreme hopscotch, self-portraits, and even a giant COVID-19 monster were drawn.

    Together the seniors drew graves and chalk outlines of themselves. They made a giant and somehow poignant gravestone for the class and signed their names at the bottom. From a distance, the class of 2020 worked creatively, together, one last time.

    Crane is a graduating senior at Grand County High School. She is serving a paid internship at The Times-Independent.

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