It’s called Be The Light, and it’s quickly gaining national notoriety among schools all across the country. 

The message is a similar one from each campus’ lit-up empty football field throughout the U.S. 

Wheatland High’s Jason Soderlund explained the meaning behind Be The Light after Wheatland turned on its lights on Thursday night between 8 and 9 p.m. 

“(It’s that) we appreciate you, we haven’t forgotten you,” said Soderlund, the school’s head track and field and assistant football coach. 

In a time when students are forced inside, amid concerns over the spread of coronavirus, key high school memories are being postponed and even all-out canceled. Soderlund said it’s difficult for the younger generation to grasp the idea that senior proms are being shut down, commencement ceremonies being put on hold and sports being canceled. 

“For all of us there is a large group of kids that the senior year is being taken away from them,” Soderlund said. “We don’t want them to give up hope.”

Soderlund’s son, Chris Soderlund, was looking to make leaps and bounds this year in the boys discus throw for track and field. 

While the opportunity to compete as a senior was taken away following the cancellation of prep sports last week, coach Soderlund said the student-athletes are trying to remain positive. 

Soderlund related the coronavirus outbreak to a movie suddenly taking a different turn and how it directly affects all the main players involved. 

“That’s tough,” Soderlund said. “They haven’t given up, they just keep fighting. My son is working out everyday at our house. I have enjoyed some great conversations with my kids and my wife.” 

Soderlund encourages everyone to keep moving forward in the face of the virus and all the restrictions in place to keep the public safe amid the pandemic. 

The goal, he said, is moving in a positive direction one day at a time. 

“Stay safe, stay positive,” he said. “Stuff like this is going to come into your life every once in a while; we just got to be able to handle it.” 

East Nicolaus High School illuminated Wahl Field on Wednesday night as a part of Be The Light. 

Neil Stinson, the school’s athletic director and softball coach, said that not one person will be left behind due to COVID-19. 

“We turned on the stadium lights at Wahl Field in East Nicolaus from 8-9 p.m. to symbolize the assurance that our students, particularly the senior class of 2020, are on our hearts and minds as we participate in the Be The Light campaign,” Stinson said in a statement. “I challenged all area schools to burn their stadium lights in honor of the students.” 

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