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RCS lights up campus for 2020 seniors

It is not unusual around this time of year to see stadium lights shining – but it is unusual to see stadium lights still on when all games have been cancelled for the rest of the year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is the scene at Russellville High School every night at 8:20 p.m. as stadium lights across the campus light up in honor of the 2020 seniors.

Even though students and parents are not allowed to gather at the fields or gymnasium because of the state stay-at-home order, Russellville City Schools still decided to light the stadiums as a sign of hope.

“While the last part of your senior year did not go as planned, it’s moments such as these that create the most memories, opportunities and most importantly growth,” said head football coach John Ritter. “Grow from this experience. Use it as fuel to change yourself for the better, the society for the better and change the trajectory of your life toward bigger and better things.”

The first place on the RCS campus to turn its lights on was the baseball stadium after head coach Chris Heaps was tagged in a Facebook post about schools in Tennessee lighting the schools in honor of this year’s senior class.

“We also ask our community to participate by turning on your porch lights tonight at 8:20 p.m. for 20 minutes so we, as a community, can show our hope in a better tomorrow,” Heaps said.

The time of 8:20 p.m. was chosen because it is 20:20 in military time, to represent the class of 2020.

In addition to stadiums lighting up, RCS Auditorium also turned on its lights in honor of all of the musicals that will not have a chance to take the stage because of COVID-19. RCS choral instructor Emily Rush said she feels for her students who worked so hard on their musicals that will not be seen.

“This was our season too, and I sure miss nights when all of these lights are on and the parking lots are full,” Rush said.

Ritter said this year brings a lot of uncertainty because of the virus, but he hopes a small symbol of hope will make a difference for the students and the community.

“The class of 2020 is a special group,” Ritter said, “and the quarantine of 2020 will only add to that legendary status.”