Time for some ‘Friday Night Lights’

by Jon Bales, DASD Superintendent (published by the DeForest Times-Tribune, 8/30/12)

There is a popular television show right now titled “Friday Night Lights.”

It is a drama that portrays human interest stories against the backdrop of a high school football team in a small southern town. It relies on the timeless adage that sports are like life. The human drama of athletic competition. Indeed, there is drama.

Last Friday night in the DeForest area, some drama played out at 815 Jefferson St. Our high school football team won a game against Edgewood. The game was fun. Still, I’m not certain that was the real storyline of the evening.

The real story was in the stands as well as on the field. There, on a warm night before the school year had even officially started, a near capacity crowd sat in some new bleachers, in a new stadium that they had built for the young people of this community.

This story started when the District needed to replace old bleachers for safety and accessibility reasons and create much needed storage space for program equipment and materials.

It was advanced by the addition of a significant gift from the Chase Family Foundation. From there, the idea grew to create a truly special project with a partnership between the school district and the community.

During the past several months, local businesses, civic groups, student groups, alumni, families and individuals have contributed time and money to the completion of this sports and community facility project.

The response to fundraising efforts to make this a special facility for the community continues to be amazing. It is estimated more than $1 million dollars will be raised.

This isn’t happening because it’s for football, soccer and track, involving hundreds of students. It’s happening because of how much the people of this community truly care about our young people.

It’s happening because the community wants our children to know how much they support them. How much they respect them for their efforts. Not just on a playing field, but in countless non-athletic activities, the classrooms and labs and in the community.

Young people are a huge part of this community. They are a part of our quality of would be seen walking the streets at all hour.

Hazel asked me to mow her lawn once and once was enough. It was a huge lawn with sticks and stones mixed in with the heavy, tall grass. It took forever to mow it and Hazel gave me a whole quarter for the job. John told me that he usually the one who got stuck with the once-a-month mowing as his mother insisted that he was obliged to mow Hazel’s lawn.

I didn’t think Hazel owned a car but John told me that she had an old Ford back in the shed towards the back of the lot. He said she usually drove the car about once a year. She would load the car with dirt, plants and water and take John and his aunt out to fix up the family graves at Norway Grove Cemetery. She would take her half out of the middle of the road and slowly make her way to the cemetery. “I was a nervous wreck by the time we got to the cemetery,” John said.

I grew up on Market Street and Commerce Street on DeForest’s Main Square and I saw many interesting things in that time and I’ll always remember DeForest’s Street Walkers — Miss Raimer and Hazel Grinde.

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