The lights went out. The lights came on. The lights went out. The lights came on. Sometimes they went out all at once.
Sometimes they went out one bulb at a time. Sometimes one bulb on each corner of the venue were the only things sending light onto the field of play.
Usually flickering lights excite a stir from the people being (un)illuminated by them. Thursday, the flickering of lights had the same effect—not because Christmas had come early but because the new lighting system at the athletic facilities at Oconee County High School were flicked on for the first time for the eyes of the public.
A handful of school administrators as well as facility members were on hand to see first hand what the LED lights could do. As part of the display and training of the staff at OCHS the bulbs were turned on and off throughout the evening and synched to the tunes of Metallica’s hit song Enter Sandman.
There was a fair share of oohs and ahhs floating around the hushed group as the OCHS softball field lit up and pole by pole as Kirk Hammett and bassist Jason Newsted strung their cords in the musical classic.
The installation of the LED lights puts OCHS’ facility lighting as one of the elite systems in the state. The lighting now on the campus of OCHS is feature by multiple professional venues nationwide including three-year-old SunTrust Park, home of the Atlanta Braves.
The new lighting system is designed to limit wasted light. The staff at OCHS will be able to focus the lights on whatever they want on the field. They will also now have full control of how bright the lights will shine. LED lights also allow the event operators the ability to direct light where needed throughout an event.
“It’s the technology [that separates these lights from the others],” Oconee County School District Chief Operations Officer Brock Toole said. “The technology that comes with these lights, the brightness, the foot candles and every things that comes with is just something to see. It’s pretty neat. We’re excited and thankful to be able to provide our students with this.”
The game watching experience is expected to improve as well as the vision for the student athletes on the field.
“It’s Friday night lights,” Toole said. “We’re extremely fortunate to have these types of facilities for our students to enjoy. It makes the high school experience that much more enjoyable.”
The lights that were removed from Warrior Stadium, the school’s softball field and baseball field had reached the end of their cycle. Oconee County Schools does annual inspections on the facilities at both public schools prompting the beginning of the $743,000 project this summer, which was funded by E-SPLOST 5.
The new lights come on the heels of the $2.2 million addition of turf fields, new tracks and jumping pits at both high schools last summer.
With the lighting system at OCHS now updated the focus turns to North Oconee High School. Replacement of the Bogart school’s lights is possible in the next year, but the newer school’s lights are still under warranty and could possibly be replaced down at a later time.
The resources being pumped into the athletic programs at the high school haven’t gone unnoticed. In a county with high academic esteem, OCSD has made an effort to give their student athletes some of the best facilities in the state.
“I think our county really supports the initiatives of the district as a whole,” OCHS Athletic Director Kevin Yancey said. “They do a great job on both sides of the county. Our kids are very fortunate to have what they have. I think living in Oconee County and traveling other places to play, I think they understand how fortunate the are to have such a central office and Board of Education that is committed to not only athletics but committed to the academics. We’re very appreciative from our position because it highlights the great things our students and coaches are doing.”