Friday Night Warrior Lights shine for Class of 2020

FORT KENT, Maine — The school building has been empty of students since March, but the Fort Kent Community High School soccer field was lit up on Friday, May 1, in honor of the Class of 2020.

SAD 27 Athletic Director Eric Werntgen began a weekly Friday Night Warrior Lights event to honor the graduating seniors, during which he shined the soccer lights at 8:20 p.m. for 20 minutes and 20 seconds, as the scoreboard clock counted down the time.

The 58 Fort Kent seniors saw their final year of high school come to a halt as COVID-19 led to schools throughout the state closing their buildings until the end of the year. While the students continue their academic studies at home, they have lost out on
quite a bit during what Werntgen deemed a “milestone year.”

“This is all new to everybody. The biggest thing they’re missing out on to me is the social component of just being a kid,” Werntgen said. “You’re missing your friends, your class, your teachers, your coaches, road trips, prom — it’s endless.

The spring school sports season was also canceled, with 22 Fort Kent seniors who had signed up for baseball, softball, tennis or track and field this spring missing out on their last chance to showcase their athletic abilities, improve their personal best and hang out on the track, field or court with their classmates.

Werntgen said he got the idea to shine the lights in honor of the students from Caribou High School Athletic Director Evan Graves, and that the effort has become something of a national movement in support of Class of 2020 students everywhere.

Werntgen has worked with the SAD 27 students for the past six years as both AD and a physical education teacher, so has come to know the senior class well.

“It’s a great group. It really is. You feel for them that they’re not getting a traditional end to their year,” Werntgen said.

The entire SAD27 staff are doing all they can to support the Class of 2020 during this unusual time, Werntgen said.

“We do everything for the kids. Now that [school is] being done remotely it certainly changes [the experience], but we’re still all fighting for them and trying to do whatever we can for them,” he said.

The Friday Night Warrior Lights will shine in recognition of the students each Friday night until the seniors’ originally scheduled graduation date of Friday, June 12.

The soccer lights were a labor of love for the community and were installed in 2017 by volunteers after the Fort Kent Booster Club raised more than $60,000 to purchase them.

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