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Be the light: Minnesota high schools sending message of hope

Be the light: Minnesota high schools sending message of hope
Picture of Waseca High School's football field during the #BeTheLight challenge. (Courtesy: @WasecaBluejays/Twitter)

WASECA, Minn. (BVM) — There is a certain beauty to stadium lights illuminating the night. That glow that can be seen from a distance that reminds us of past athletic accomplishments. It draws us in to watch young men and women compete under those powerful lights.

In many towns, those lights from the high school are a beacon for the community, a gathering point to cheer on the town’s team whether it be fall, spring or summer.

“One of the things that seems to bring not only our school together but our community together are the different athletic events that we have on our campus,” Waseca High School activities director Joe Hedervare said.

For a while, those lights have been off — shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has taken over our lives and forced us into isolation. Schools are closed, sports are canceled and many are working from home or aren’t working at all.

It’s a bleak moment for many, but high schools are trying to be a shining light of hope for everyone. They’re turning on the lights.

“It started in Dumas, Texas in the Dumas Independent School District,” Hedervare said, “and basically they just turned their lights on at night … just to show their kids that, ‘hey, we’re thinking about you, there is hope and we’re doing this as a way to show you that we’re going to get through this together and things are eventually going to get better.’”

A movement that started in Texas has now reached Minnesota and #BeTheLightMN is trending all over the state on Twitter. High schools are turning on their lights for a short period of time at night to honor their students and remind them that there is hope during this trying time.

“To me, when I found out about this, this was an important enough thing to me, knowing what our school stands for for our community and for our kids,” Hedervare said. “It was an important enough thing for me to do to show our kids there is hope.”

Waseca was the third high school in Minnesota to join the movement and Hedervare says it has taken off like a wildfire.

“After the first night we did it, I think we were probably the third school in the state that jumped on board with this,” Hedervare said, “and I put something on Twitter and basically said what other Minnesota schools are going to join in and that list has kept growing and growing and growing.”

It’s a small gesture that has meant a lot to the community and has also helped Hedervare.

“For me personally, I think it was kind of a way to get back to some sort of sense of normalcy.” Hedervare said. “I was basically going from 100 miles an hour, pedal to the metal, state-tournament plans, playoff plans, things like that to basically nothing within the course of 15 to 20 minutes. … It was a way at least for one night that I can go and get a little bit back to normal where I turn the lights on.”

As more and more schools join, it means that at least somewhere in Minnesota every night there is a beacon of hope illuminating, reminding everyone that someday soon we will once again go to those lights as a community to cheer on our team.

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