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The Cherryville Eagle

Honoring Cherryville High School Seniors #BetheLight Night a huge success

At the CHS Ironmen football and soccer scoreboard inside Rudisill Stadium are a few of the Class of 2020 seniors. On the back row, left to right, are: Lilly Riddley, Savannah Wise, Emma Heavner, Gracie Rickard, and Victoria Pruett. Front row, sitting are Maxwell Francesco and Wyatt Ford. All are practicing social distancing for the #BetheLight night event last week. (photo by MEP/The Eagle)



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It was an event meant to honor the 2020 graduating class of 2020, whose scholastic and sports year has been cut short by a small, but deadly germ.

While the coronavirus hasn’t stopped the students from learning as their teachers are having classes online, it has managed to throw a curve ball at what for all high school students everywhere is a classic rite of passage – graduation; getting your diploma in front of all your family and your friends and your peers.

It was announced last week that North Carolina students will not go back to school this year, by order of Gov. Roy Cooper.  

To show support for the Class of 2020, last Monday night, April 20, was declared to be a “Be The Light” night as the CHS athletic department lit up the sports fields for the seniors. The Senior’s parents were asked to light up their houses as well, according to information received from Ironmen Athletic Director Scott Harrill.

As for the event, Coach Harrill said, “The #BetheLight night was a huge success. There have been schools across America taking part in lighting up the stadiums to honor the Seniors of the Class of 2020 in this most difficult time for them.  

“We turned on all our stadium lights on the baseball, football, and softball fields. We chose the date because of it being April 20, 2020. We thought that was a great date for the Class of 2020.  

“Many of the Seniors are missing out on a Senior year of sports that they trained most of their life for. We also wanted to give the Seniors a chance to step in the stadium one more time for old time’s sake. 

“The Senior’s cap and gowns came in on Monday, so this was a great day for them to try on those caps and gowns, and to come out to get a quick picture. This is normally such an exciting day in the school when Seniors get those caps and gowns.  

“I just thought that would add a little smile to the faces of our Seniors to allow them an exciting moment. We were so happy that the community of Cherryville took part in the Be the Light night. Many across town left porch lights on, and decorated their yards or front doors. Many of the Senior parents also had signs made to put in their Senior’s yard, as well as lighting up their house.”

CHS Senior Gracie Rickard came by Rudisill, along with six of her classmates, Maxwell Francesco, Wyatt Ford, Lilly Riddley, Savannah Wise, Emma Heavner, and Victoria Pruett. They all posed for photos while practicing social distancing rules. They were all happy to be back on the stadium’s grounds, even if for only a brief moment.

Rickard said there have been a lot of prayers going up during what she called, “this coronavirus mess!” 

Savannah Wise agreed, adding, “The (online) classes have been a little challenging but we’re still going on with them and getting our work, our studies, done.”

She said it has been hard to contact colleges or conduct visits right now other than to email the schools they are looking to get into.

“It feels good to be able to get out here again. We have a really great support system at CHS, and in Cherryville,” she said.

Just a short walk behind Starnes Auditorium is Fraley Field.

Senior baseball players Elliott Greene and Noah Ingle were there standing in the lights while their parents, from good social distance away, snapped photos of them in front of the baseball scoreboard.

Said Greene, “We’re hopeful to be able to get back out here as soon as possible.” 

Teammate and fellow Senior Noah Ingle was hopeful as well, adding, “I’m ready to get back onto Buck Fraley Field one more time!” 

Unfortunately, with Gov. Cooper’s terminating the 2020 school year, it appears that will not happen for these young student athletes.

However, they are all glad the town of Cherryville is behind them.

Both young men have plans to attend college.

Said Harrill, “I think the night was great. I enjoyed seeing some of the students ride by the stadium. It was also good to hear all the car horns honk riding by in honor of those Seniors.”