By D. Foyle, Alexandria (File photo)
There are four high schools in the city: T.C. Williams, Episcopal, St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes, and Bishop Ireton. All field a full complement of athletic teams. All are in residential neighborhoods, and, although Episcopal is sheltered somewhat, there are many faculty homes and student dormitories in proximity to its stadium.
None have lights for evening or night play, prevented by a combination of zoning regulations and permitting restrictions.
At none of these schools is the lack of lights in the football stadium seen as a deterrent to the academic success of students. Why, then, the push for lights at T.C.?
This same issue came up when the city and its recreation department sought to put lights on the field at Francis Hammond Middle School. The residents in the area objected strongly and the proposal went away with a whimper.
Amending T.C.’s permit to allow a lighted football stadium is not simply a matter of aiding the school’s athletics, but more about the city and recreation department’s need for illuminated fields.
If academic success in high school can’t be fully realized without stadium lights, then how can the lack of lights be justified at Ireton, St. Stephen’s or Episcopal? How could city officials deny their applications for lights when the same was approved for T.C.?
The residents who live near T.C. and will be most affected by the installation of lights should look to the city to stand by the restrictions in the permit issued for the high school. These residents should not have to fight their elected and appointed officials. They deserve the protection of the city and confidence in the permitting process.