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Pitman lights up the night
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Pitman football players celebrate the lighting of the newly installed stadium lights Wednesday evening (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

Pitman High School students, parents, teachers, coaches, administration and Turlock Unified School District representatives came together on the campus’ football and soccer field and the all-weather track on Wednesday evening to watch the newly installed stadium lights be turned on for the very first time.

It was a moment that Pitman principal Angela Freeman described as historic and emotional.

“It's just so heartfelt that all of these people came together for tonight,” Freeman said. “Tonight's definitely a special night. It’s a night where the Pride is making history and a night that affects truly so many of us. 

The installation of the stadium lights was completed just over a week ago. They were paid for by the $56,300​​ Powering Our Communities grant from the Turlock Irrigation District. The funds were unanimously accepted by the Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees in June.

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Pitman Band and Color Guard will now be able to practice on a lit field (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

With stadium lights installed and working, Pitman High athletics will have more time to host activities. The school had already been hosting home soccer games, freshman football games and cross country meets at the field and track, but many of the activities had to wrap up before nightfall due to darkness and other safety concerns. Now, the football team, track and field squad, the cross country runners and and the marching band can have night practices, while soccer and cross country competitions could start at later times. 

“This is going to be a huge improvement to the way athletics are able to operate moving forward,” said Vanessa Hulbert, 2023-2024 Pitman ASB president.

“This is going to help boost not only safety, but school spirit and make us feel like we are home and not a visitor somewhere else,” Hulbert continued, alluding to the fact that many of Pitman’s home athletic events must be held across town at Joe Debely Stadium on the campus of Turlock High School.

Immediately following the ceremony Wednesday, the Pride varsity football team already began taking advantage of the lights by holding a full practice.

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Pitman Athletic Director Dustin Curtiss prepares to switch on the field lights for the first time for students, staff and community members (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

The installation of the lights is just another step towards there being a fully operational stadium.

Following the installation of the all-weather field and track, there have been several additions and planned projects. A barbecue pit was donated and built by the Pitman Development Foundation and the Arrowhead Club, an electronic scoreboard will soon be installed thanks to a donation from the Turlock Lions Club, and a snack bar is currently under construction paid for by donations from the Pitman Development Foundation, Kiwanis of Greater Turlock, Big Vic’s BBQ, Grizzly Nut LLC, DiGrazia and Associates, Harding Performance Boot Camp and Nelson and Sons Electric. 

“It just takes a community to do what we're doing right now,” Freeman said.