The school board of New Hope Solebury High School voted on Monday, Sept. 16 to silence the cheers and turn off the lights for the stadium field. Due to nearby neighbor’s complaints and the issue of field space, the board has decided to cancel night games after the fall season.
During the vote that confirmed this decision, there were three board members who were not present. President Amanda Elefante had recused herself and Jonathan Adar and Joseph Harraka did not make it to that meeting. Mr. Harraka was surprised by the vote and said it was an “unfortunate decision which I would have adamantly opposed.” The motion to cancel the night games was a surprise because it was not on the agenda or advertised publicly. What was on the agenda was the possible plan to resolve this issue: to build a new stadium named field 13 which would be far enough from neighboring homes to avoid conflict. This would be funded completely by private donations.The next school board meeting is scheduled for October 12th, and it is open to the public. If the decision is made final on this night, 75% of the planned season for this year will have to be rescheduled.
The superintendent, Dr. Raymond Boccuti, made the statement “We want to be the best neighbors we can. I’m also interested in whatever is best for the students, and we need more fields. What’s nice is that members of the community are offering to help pay, so no one loses.”
Not everyone agrees with Dr. Boccuti’s statement. Judy Finn, mother of a freshman football player at New Hope, has created an online petition using Facebook to spread awareness and appeal the decision to turn off the stadium lights. Past New Hope graduates, including former 2013 class president, Zachary Wenz and former 2012 president, Chris Warden, have written letters to the school board expressing their disappointment in the quick decision to cancel night games. Also, many of the students feel that this decision is unjust. Senior Kyle Chapin says “It’s only a few complaining neighbor’s compared to the entire student body, and it’s not fair that they got their way.”The school board’s job is to make decisions that will positively affect the student body. Chris Warden reflects the opinion of many students when he writes in his letter to the school board: “Those who matter most to the board--the students--are the ones who you have hurt by your decision to remove the lights and sound ultimately ending night games.”
It is anticipated that the anger towards the choice to end the night games will drive many students, parents and others affected to arrive at the next board meeting and let their voices be heard.