For more news about the COVID-19 coronavirus, access the News Tribune Health section.
WARDSVILLE — The coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on plenty of routines this spring. At Blair Oaks, baseball games and track and field meets have been nonexistent at the Falcon Athletic Complex.
But each Friday night for the past six weeks, like clockwork, the lights have turned on at the complex's football field and baseball/softball field at 8:20 p.m. — 20:20 in military time — and remained on for 20 minutes to honor the Blair Oaks spring student-athletes who lost their seasons due to COVID-19.
"You have that 20 minutes of time that you are thinking about what you aren't doing," Blair Oaks principal Melinda Aholt said. "You're not sitting at track meets and you're not getting to sit at baseball games and you're not keeping score.
"What I miss watching, I can only imagine what our seniors are missing getting to play."
Aholt has been positioned near the entrance of the Falcon Athletic Complex, greeting cars as they circled through the parking lot to honor the Blair Oaks senior athletes. She has also broadcast the gatherings on Facebook Live.
"They're just so excited to come through and see a smiling face," Aholt said. "They're just wanting to be there for the seniors and show their support. It's really neat to see how many people come out and say hello and honk for our seniors."
The parking lot was full last Friday, when several Blair Oaks senior athletes showed up on a day that would have been their final day of classes. Fire engines and police vehicles turned on their sirens for a few seconds as they stopped by the parking lot.
"It is tough to not get to see these seniors have their time in the limelight," Aholt said. "They've waited to be a senior, they've waited to be a senior athlete, and they're not going to get to letter, they're not going to get to have their Senior Night. They're not going to get to have that special moment that they've been waiting for."
Last week, the Alan Atnip Memorial and Junior Falcon Scholarship was presented to Adam Jurgensmeyer, Riley Lentz and Sam Luebbering during Friday Night Lights. Kim Quirouet was on hand to present the scholarships.
"Kim asked if she could present it that night, just to make it different for them," Aholt said. The scholarships are typically presented at the senior breakfast.
This weekend would have been a busy one for Blair Oaks sports. District track would have taken place today, district baseball would have begun this weekend and state golf was slated for Monday and Tuesday.
But those were called off April 9, when Gov. Mike Parson announced on-campus classes were canceled for the rest of the school year, followed by the Missouri State High School Activities Association canceling the spring sports postseason.
"I think a lot about this time last year," Aholt said. "We were going to district track and then going to baseball games, and then traveling farther to go to more baseball games.
"It's just such a different time. It's almost like we've living this opposite life that we did last year at this time."
The automatic timers shut off the complex's lights at 8:40 p.m. for the final time this school year, ending the Friday Night Lights routine. But they'll be turned on again June 20, the rescheduled date for Blair Oaks' graduation.
"I can't believe it's the last one," Aholt said. " Seeing the kids just fills me up. It reminds of why I got into this profession."