Portage High School hosted the #BeTheLight event Friday night to honor the spring athletes who lost their senior sports season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Spring athletes stood socially distanced on the football field and tennis courts while families, friends, teachers, administrators, and community members paraded through the campus in their cars honking and showing gratitude to the 2020 seniors.
Spring athletes also received a yard-sign with their name on it to take home. The signs read the words “2020 Be The Light.” This was Portage High School's way of thanking the seniors that have put in countless hours of hard work and dedication to their respected sports.
Joe Mietzner, a senior on the Portage High School track team, attended the event with his teammates.
“It obviously has impacted me in a big way to have a season cancelled, but I am going to learn from it and become a better runner,” said Mietzner. “It was shocking to see this many people here tonight, but I am happy to see this many people care about athletics. I’ve been running on my own and doing a lot of things on my own, and it is just nice to see people out here still supporting us during all this.”
#BeTheLight is a nationwide event that has been hosted across the country and many high schools are still planning to do their own version of it.
Melissa Deavers-Lowie, communications director for Portage Township Schools, was inspired by another high school to host the event.
“We thought since the athletes got their senior nights taken away, this would be a good way to give it back,” said Deavers-Lowie “We chose the football field, because it allowed us to use some of the most prominent lights in Portage. It allowed us to emphasize the #BeTheLight part of it.
“I'm just excited we get to do something for the senior class and senior athletes. Watching them receive recognition for that final season means a lot.”
Portage Township Schools has also been hard at work planning a special event for Portage High School seniors to honor their achievements as well.
“Currently we are working on giving out t-shirts that say 'Senior Strong,' and there has been a large community response from that,” said Deavers-Lowie. “We are also starting a senior award week on Facebook and Twitter to announce accomplishments and scholarship recipients. We want to safely recognize all 600 seniors for their high school accomplishments.”
A special thanks to Portage Township Schools and Portage High School for putting on such a special and meaningful event, and to the Portage Police Department and Porter County Sherriff’s Department for helping coordinate the event's traffic flow to make it a smooth and safe event for all.