It’s been a long time coming, but five San Mateo Union High School District high schools – Aragon, Capuchino, Hillsdale, Mills and San Mateo High – finally received long awaited permanent stadium lights that athletic families and schools have been requesting for a long time. After several board meeting discussions, three community workshops, and meetings with individual neighbors, the Board unanimously voted to move forward with Board Policy and Administrative Regulation 7325 for the Stadium Lights and Public Address Systems Project at its January 14, 2016 Board meeting.
Up until then, we were the only district in the County without permanent lights or in the process of planning for their installation. We used the equivalent of “highway construction lighting” to illuminate our fields. This temporary solution was noisy, ineffective in providing focused light, and not very environmentally friendly. Using the latest technology in lighting systems, we now have modern day lighting and as a result, our students have gained more academic time, families can come together more often to watch their students in evening contests, and community groups that struggled to find space in the dearth of our county’s accessible playing fields now have some options on the nights our students do not need the space.
Important to the implementation of this project is continuing to demonstrate we can be respectful and responsive neighbors. Because of the advanced technology of today’s lighting and Public Announcement systems, many neighbor concerns voiced during the community process focused on litter, parking and crowd noise. To address those legitimate concerns that are mostly applicable to seasonal football games that draw larger crowds, the District team continues to closely monitor trash, decibel levels, crowd management and time limits on lighting. Our Police Departments have been incredible in helping us with this process.
In the beginning of the Fall 2017 season, staff, students and parent leaders and volunteers came together to organize stadium light and public address system celebrations for Hillsdale, Capuchino, Aragon, San Mateo High and Mills. Each celebration was special. Each school’s Athletic Booster parent group hosted a fundraising tailgate with good barbecue and student musical performances and the tailgate was then followed by a brief ceremony just before the varsity game. Board members, city officials and partners joined us in saying “thank you” to our families and neighbors for this awesome accomplishment.