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Lights at high school athletic fields in Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin and Sherwood honor seniors who won't be able to participate in group graduations

PMG PHOTO: RAY PITZ - Three students unfurled a banner honoring seniors at an otherwise vacant Westview High School stadium Friday night. More than 30 students, most who appeared to be seniors, flocked to a small parking lot at Westview High School Friday night to view the illumination of the school's athletic field.

For them, that meant trekking across the closed athletic field lot to get a closer view of the vacant school's stadium lights.

The high school – as were all other high schools in the district – was honoring its senior class as part of a national Be The Light movement.

Like many other schools throughout the nation, Westview was paying tribute to its seniors who will not be able to walk in traditional graduation ceremonies or participate in other activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its requirement of social distancing to avoid spreading the virus.

Like other schools, the stadium lights went on at 8:20 p.m. and were expected to stay on for 20 minutes. The weekly tribute will continue until June 12.

Although the main entrance to the stadium was blocked off, a group of about 10 seniors made their way from the front parking lot to the stadium. The only students on the field were three who were busy hanging a "We Love Our Seniors" banner on a soccer net.

"It's a nice gesture," said senior Lauren Proebstel about the stadium illumination effort.

Another senior, Rachel Maclay, was more pointed about the effort, observing, "I think they ran out of ideas to honor us."

But for Maclay, the fact that she and fellow students won't be able to graduate together this year is an unfortunate reality.

"I cried for two days straight," Maclay said after finding out that her group graduation would be cancelled.

So what will graduation turn out to look like in June?

Maybe broadcasted over Zoom, a cloud-based online audio and video chat platform, suggested one senior.

The #BeTheLight stadium lighting was not only is being observed at Beaverton School District high school stadiums but also those in the Tigard-Tualatin and Sherwood school districts as well.

"It's disappointing that our senior year ended the way it did, but it's really nice to see the community and school coming together to try and make seniors feel appreciated regardless of the circumstances," Meghan Turley, a Tigard High School senior who also serves as a youth councilor on the Tigard City Council, said about the event on Thursday.

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