‘Be the Light’ campaign shines bright in South Dakota

Rapid City Central's football field is lit up for the "Be the Light" movement on Thursday.

Bright lights are lifting spirits across the nation.

The “Be the Light” campaign has turned into a popular nationwide practice, which recognizes this year’s graduating class and spring sports athletes unable to finish their seasons due to the COV-19 pandemic.

South Dakota schools joined the national campaign on April 16. Stadium lights were turned on at 8:20 p.m. for 20 minutes to honor the Class of 2020 and spring sports athletes. The time was chosen because 8:20 is 20:20 in military time. Scoreboards were also displayed with 20:20 on the clock and No. 20 was for both home and visitor scores.

“We just thought it would be a great way to shed some light -- pun intended -- on our kids that are not getting to have any closure to their senior season,” Rapid City Central Activities Director Jordan Bauer said. “Then give a thank you also to all of our medical personnel and first responders.”


Bauer said Sturgis Activities Director Todd Palmer was instrumental in kicking off the campaign in South Dakota. It proved to be popular in the Black Hills area, with Sturgis, Custer, Spearfish, Hot Springs, Hill City, Rapid City Christian, Douglas, St. Thomas More, Belle Fourche and Lead-Deadwood all participating on Thursday. It also extended into other West River communities.

In Rapid City, Bauer said Post 22’s Fitzgerald Stadium and South Dakota School of Mines took part in the campaign at the same time. He estimates between the three venues, there were “a couple hundred to a few hundred cars,” either parked or driving by honking their horns during the 20 minutes.

Fire trucks and police cars were blaring their sirens during the campaign, which turned into a special event for the communities.

“I was told there were a lot of our seniors dressed up in their cap and gowns,” Bauer said. “It was a pretty special thing and I think it hit home. It was kind of emotional for a lot of our kids and parents and it sounds like everyone in the area kind of had the same response. It was a pretty special night and meaningful for sure.”


Schools were notified about the campaign through a statewide email to athletic directors. Freeman participated and activities director Kristina Sage said the school organized it at the last minute, but it was still well received by the community.

“I was amazed by how many cars were there,” Sage said. “It was really great to see it. I think people are looking for something to do and this was a great thing they can do to show support to those students.”

Sage added Freeman still intends on having its graduation on May 16 at 2 p.m. It plans on hosting graduation at the football field, with just close family in attendance. The school is also planning on a parade for the 14 graduating seniors.

“It sounds like that will be a fun event and something special for them as well,” Sage said.

The Selby football field is lit up during the recent "Be the Light" campaign.

There’s another state-wide movement planned by the South Dakota Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association. The “Let It Shine South Dakota” campaign is set for May 1 and it encourages high school and college stadiums to shine their lights between 9:30 and 10 p.m. (CST). South Dakotans are encouraged to shine everything from flashlights, firepits, yard lights and Christmas lights at their homes for 30 minutes.


Bauer and Sage both rave about the recent campaign and encourage other communities to participate on May 1.

“It was unbelievably positive for us and I think it was an awesome thing to recognize our kids and the first line of defense against this virus,” Bauer said. “I would highly recommend it to any community out there thinking about doing it.”

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