Patrick Shelby

Patrick Shelby

There continues to be wide range of personal stories shared throughout the Lower Yakima Valley which have made an enduring impact on us all as we acclimate to life during this COVID-19 period — individual accounts of hardship, sacrifice, perseverance, achievement and love, bringing communities of people closer together as we make our way through this, one day at a time.

On Friday night, Sunnyside High School turned on the stadium lights at Clem Senn Field as they joined with Washington state campuses in honoring the Class of 2020 and spring sports athletes, along with a beaming display of student support to complete the off- campus school year strong.

The gate was unlocked to allow only a few colleagues to access field and assist in the symbolic act while maintaining social distance norms. Once inside, the gate was immediately padlocked which reinforced the safety measures we are all dealing with and the overall goal of protecting everyone’s health.

As I made my way calmly across the flourishing green grass, the solitary trek provided me the opportunity to reflect on the memorable moment with an uncertain melancholy, focused on the forfeiture of tradition.

With each step, in looking for a spot to set-up my tripod and camera to capture the essence of this surreal evening, I realized we’re fighting a disease and like any disease, it doesn’t play fair.

COVID-19 has affected our world, our community and changed all of our lives.

The magic of high school sports, along with an academic year of campus-wide activities is how it brings lower valley communities together — Sunnyside High School is an essential part of our hometown character and the Grizzly spirit exuberated provides us all with a youthful smile.

I was drawn to the Grizzly Nation student body section and the point of view which resonates very clearly for me. 8:20 p.m., which is 2020 military time, was at hand and the lights were warmed up to game time temperature.

Vehicles filled with students cheering on their classmates paraded south on 16th St. and turned into the Harrison Middle School parking lot, while proceeding along the west end zone where the scoreboard read 2020 as “Hercules” maintained a watchful presence.

The statewide “Be The Light” campaign lasted exactly 20-minutes and 20-seconds.

During that moment in time, students demonstrated their vibrant resolve for not only accepting the academic and social challenges created by the virus crisis but their role in defining how new winning traditions will be carried out.

Patrick Shelby can be contacted at 509-837-4500, ext. 110 or email

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