WHS Students Honor First Responders with COVID-19 Eternal Flames

Since 1875, students at Washington High School have taken the initiative to show their support, gratitude, and respect for individuals who have served, suffered, or otherwise been a part of major events throughout history. From wars to natural disasters, the Blue Lion student body has often honored community members through various memorable and touching ways.

“In the largest pandemic in a century,” said Brittney Wilson, a senior at WHS, “COVID-19 has affected almost every aspect of our daily lives.”

As the students continue to overcome the obstacles and new challenges that this past year has brought to the already challenging path towards adulthood, they wanted to take time to thank those who have worked tirelessly to combat the disease. Because of their efforts, the Blue Lions have been able to enjoy as close to a normal school year as possible.

The students also wanted to memorialize the lives lost in the community to COVID-19 and show support to those families, many of whom are a part of the Blue Lion Family themselves.

The WHS Senior Strategies Class raised money through the school store, a shop completely owned and operated by the business students, to dedicate a feature on school grounds to display their appreciation, pay their respects, and show their support.

“After searching for a way to honor those directly affected by COVID-19, we decided to dedicate this sign and eternal flames to pay our respects,” explained Ryan Barton, a senior at WHS. Barton was one of the students who led the class in this initiative.

Recently erected in the flower gardens in front of WHS stands four eternal flames. Emma Funari, a senior at WHS, explained that the first eternal flame is dedicated to the local first responders for working hard to keep our community safe during these unprecedented times. The second is for the local healthcare workers and their dedication to keeping our community healthy, with many risking their lives in hazardous environments. The third eternal flame burns in memory of the COVID-19 victims - the almost 50 friends, family members, and neighbors the community has lost this past year. The fourth and final flame is for the COVID-19 survivors as a symbol of hope to stay strong through any future long-term effects that may come from the disease.

Powered by solar energy and artificially lit through light bulbs, the class said that the eternal flames will stand as an unwavering symbol of hope for all in our community as we continue to work together in our collective efforts against COVID-19.

To dedicate their testament to these groups, the Senior Strategies Class invited local law enforcement and healthcare professionals to join them for the lighting of the flames. After a brief welcome and introduction by Ryan Barton, Brittney Wilson gave local COVID-19 data and explained how it has affected the schools and community. Emma Funari continued the ceremony by explained the symbolism behind the flames, thanking the local heroes, and leading a moment of silence.

“We’re proud of our students and the initiatives they take to recognize deserving members of our community,” said Trevor Patton, WCHCS Director of Marketing and Communications.

“These local heroes have received countless well-deserved thank yous over the past year,” said Patton, “but you could tell that the guests were especially touched by this heartfelt recognition by our students, the ceremony, and the display established in their honor.”

To support the student students and their endeavors, the class said the community can find their store online at: bluelionschoolstore.square.site.

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