Mid-Missouri town turns on stadium lights for class of 2020 for the last time

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CALIFORNIA – Friday night, California High School turned on its stadium lights for the last time to honors its graduating seniors.

“It’s kind of honoring, in a way, to feel welcomed and feel loved,” senior Kyle Kirksey said.

Kyle’s father and school principal said parents took the initiative to start turning the lights on in April. Since then, the school and the community have celebrated its seniors every week.

“As the principal, I just turn the lights on,” Dr. Kirksey joked. “The parents and the community are the masterminds.”

California is just one of thousands of schools across the country turning on its stadium lights. They turn on at 8:20 – which is 20:20 in military time. They stay on for 20 minutes. All in an effort to make the class of 2020 feel special despite the circumstances.

“It just gives us a chance to see everyone else because we’re not really supposed to be by each other,” senior Kendall Kirksey said.

Kyle is a triplet. His siblings, Caden and Kendall, are also seniors at California High School.

“I’m really looking to get one last good experience of high school,” Caden said.

Kendall said it doesn’t make up for all the memories her class couldn’t make together but still means a lot.

“It’s symbolic of the senior year we didn’t really get,” Kendall said.

Both Caden and Kyle missed out on spring sports.

“I wish I could’ve seen Caden run [track] this year, because that’s something he’s good at,” Kendall said. “I wish I could’ve seen Kyle play golf, because that’s something he enjoys. And I wish I wasn’t missing out on prom.”

Kyle said he is glad the community is trying its best to fill the void.

“I don’t think they’re anything that can make up for the lost time,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of experiences that all missed.”

Caden said this abnormal ending has made him wish he did more while he had the chance.

“There’s a lot of moments where I didn’t give 100% to something or didn’t work as hard on my schoolwork that I really wish I could’ve had back,” he said.

The senior class will still be walking across the stage on May 30 at Riley Field, California High School’s football stadium (weather permitting).

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