Lions Field in Clear Lake.

The lights will blaze to life tonight in high school athletic stadiums across Iowa, but there won’t be any crowds in the stands.

The “Light Up The Stadium” initiative is an effort to send a message to students, teachers, parents and the whole community, according to Webster City school superintendent Mandy Ross.

“It’s showing solidarity in these times of the COVID virus,” Ross says, “but also, we want to use it as a way to celebrate our seniors whose senior year has been disrupted through all of this.” Schools across the state are being encouraged to take part in the display every Friday night for the next several weeks, through the end of the school year.

“At 8 PM, we’ll be turning on the stadium lights,” Ross says. “It’s not to celebrate athletics. It’s to celebrate our students, our seniors in particular, and to show solidarity through the pandemic.” The plan is to switch on the lights for one minute for every day school has been cancelled by the virus.

“Tonight it will be 19 minutes,” Ross says, “and then we’ll continue to do that through Friday, May 15th, which would be the Friday before our seniors graduate.” Some communities are planning car parades past the lighted stadiums, but Ross encourages people to remain in their vehicles and not to congregate, as social distancing rules are still in place.

(Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City contributed to this report.)