The lights at Vern Weekley Field will be turned on Monday night (April 6) to show support for Park Rapids students and the community in the fight against COVID-19.

Park Rapids was among more than 130 schools that joined the “Be The Light” movement, which began at Dumas High School in Texas. Dumas turned on the football stadium lights from 8 to 9 p.m. on March 25 as a symbol of hope and a way to show support for the students who aren’t in school or participating in activities. Other schools were challenged to do the same and the movement has quickly spread across the country in a sign of community spirit and pride.

The lights at Vern Weekley Field will be on from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday this week (April 6-10) and then every Monday night at that time until the stay-at-home order is lifted.

“We decided to join the “Be the Light" movement last week when I saw a message from the Minnesota State High School League that schools around the state were starting to do this. I messaged John Millea (Media Specialist for the MSHSL) and told him that Park Rapids will be a part of this,” said Jeremy Nordick, Park Rapids’ activities director. “The significance of the movement is to show support for our Panther students and staff as well as shine a bright light of hope for our health workers, law enforcement, businesses and everyone in the Park Rapids area. This has become a special movement across the United States and the State of Minnesota and we are very proud to be a part of it.”

Nordick reminds people that this is not a time to show up at Vern Weekley Field and gather.

“Please enjoy the lights from afar as we are still following the current social distancing guidelines,” said Nordick. “The athletes and coaches that I've talked to still think this is all pretty surreal. I'm not quite sure the frustration has really hit us yet, but I think next week when all our spring sports were scheduled to have outdoor events it'll be a little bit harder on everyone. It has been heartbreaking to not be able to see the kids out on the track or on the fields because we had some great numbers and a ton of excitement for our spring sports. I am really extremely proud of how positive all our coaches have been with our athletes through all this. It shows that we have great coaches and coordinators that really care for their kids and love their jobs.”