Friday, 15 May 2020 21:26

Luminaries send personalized message for soon-to-be graduates

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Luminaries featuring all 420 Richmond Senior High School seniors light up the football field on Friday. Luminaries featuring all 420 Richmond Senior High School seniors light up the football field on Friday. Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

ROCKINGHAM — Hundreds of luminaries ablaze with glow sticks added a personalized touch to the latest edition of Richmond Senior High School’s “Friday Night Lights” celebration.

The weekly celebration started by school administrators in mid-April to salute all students during the coronavirus outbreak took on a welcomed surprise for the senior class of 2020 on Friday.  

With word abuzz on social media that a treat was in store for the seniors, luminaries with each of the 420 soon-to-be graduates names were placed on and around the football field.

Angela Butler, who is a second-year fundamentals of healthcare teacher at Richmond, organized the special surprise with the help of nearly a dozen other teachers and faculty members. Butler’s son, Camden Preslar, is a senior at Richmond. 

“When they started doing Friday Night Lights, I went to the first one and the lights reminded me of luminaries,” Butler explained. “I thought this surprise was a good way to personalize the experience for the seniors. 

“By having each senior’s name on his or her own luminary, it gives each senior something to remember,” she continued. “It lets them know we are honoring them. When you see your name on something, you know it’s meant just for you.”

The idea came up during one of “Mrs. Larsen’s Weekly Laugh” meetings, a group created by math teacher and head volleyball coach Ashleigh Larsen. Made up of dozens of Richmond faculty members, the group has done several TikTok videos to serve as upbeat messages to students during the break from school.

On Thursday, the team got together and wrote the names of all the graduating seniors on white paper bags. They then filled the bags on Friday afternoon with sand that was donated by Vulcan Materials in Rockingham, as well as glow sticks donated by the school’s Beta Club.

“When we were brainstorming ideas of how to make this all come together, I thought about all of the things these seniors have done throughout the years to support the Beta Club,” Suzanne Hudson, the club’s advisor, said. 

“We decided to sponsor the glow sticks as a way to recognize them and thank them for always supporting us.”

Names of seniors are written on luminaries as part of “2020” in the middle of the football field.

Butler noted the pandemic has impacted her by not allowing her to see her students on a regular basis, but added that her son’s senior year being disrupted made her want to do something in return.

“This whole ordeal has been really hard for everybody, and we’ve all gone through a mixture of emotions,” Butler explained. “I keep hearing seniors say ‘my senior year is ruined’ or ‘we got robbed of all the traditions.’

“From the beginning, I always told them they could respond by making history and setting new traditions. I want them to know not all is lost. This surprise was my way of backing up what I said and giving our seniors another positive memory.”

As the sun set over Raider Stadium on Friday, the cracking of green, gold and red glow sticks could be heard as one was placed in each of the bags. 

At the 50-yard line of the football field the luminaries spelled out “2020” with a heart shaped below it. The rest of the bags were lined around the edge of the football field.

Darkness fell over the north end of campus and the glow sticks twinkled a silent salute to the dozens of cars lined up at both end zones. Head principal Jim Butler cut the lights completely to allow the ambiance of the luminaries to take charge.

Also part of the event, music was played over the stadium’s sound system and a light show of green, gold and white LED lights sparkled overhead.

“We just want to let the seniors know we care about them and that we love them,” Angela Butler closed. “As teachers, we’re just trying to bring a little bit of light to this situation and give them a little bit of a special memory.”


ROSports will release a video of the special luminary tribute shortly.

Kyle Pillar

Sports Editor. IUP communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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