Let There Be

Football Field Lights

This letter is directed to the Prince George's County Board of Education and the County Council, as well as those overseeing the construction of the Regional High School in Upper Marlboro. I feel it's important that the athletic fields at the $91 million-plus facility be equipped with appropriate lighting. Currently, only three of the 21 public high schools in the county have lights on their football fields.

Lights are essential for Friday night football games. Most high schools in the nation, even in poverty stricken rural areas, have lights in their stadiums. Most schools in Prince George's are forced to play their games on Saturday afternoon, making them compete with college football. Friday night football games provide for more school spirit, camaraderie and attendance at games. Fewer people want to attend high school games on Saturday afternoon, usually because they are too busy. Also, many indoor after-school activities and athletic events already occur at night. It's easier for students to stay after school than to return on Saturday.

It's hard to argue against the benefits of lights. As the days grow shorter in the fall, football practice needs as much time in the sunlight as possible. Players have been injured when practicing in the dark, which shows that lights are also a safety issue. Also, early spring practices for baseball, softball, and track are cut short because of the short days. This doesn't affect schools with lights, which puts many Prince George's schools at a disadvantage.

It boggles my mind why lights weren't installed at C.H. Flowers High School and the rebuilt Northwestern High School when both opened in 2000. To make sure this mistake isn't repeated, I urge all parents, students and members of the community to call, write and e-mail the school board to insist that lights be installed at Regional High School for the sake of the students. Most high school students in this county are being deprived of what in most places is seen as a necessity.

Tommy Priestley

Mount Rainier

A Lawmaker's Aid

On Park Building

Last week U.S. Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) helped the Accokeek Foundation celebrate the beginning of construction on a multipurpose education building in Piscataway Park that will host school groups, public exhibitions and community gatherings. This new building demonstrates how common sense "green" elements can be incorporated into a real world facility. Its energy conservation, water saving and waste reduction features will benefit its users and others who wish to build or remodel in the most environmentally sensitive way.

The foundation has worked hard to raise a portion of the funds to plan and construct this inspiring public facility. However, we have been most fortunate to have Congressman Hoyer as a partner in this effort. After determining that we had a sensible plan, he secured essential federal cost-sharing funds to enhance the public opportunities in this national park. These improvements also include upgrades to the National Colonial Farm and restoration of the only public fishing pier in the county.

The education building is the culmination of a five-year, $1.27 million project to improve and expand the visitor facilities in Piscataway Park. The rest of the project involved renovations and improvement of facilities built in the 1970s or before. The project is funded by $500,000 from the National Park Service, $255,000 from Maryland and $515,000 from private sources.

Charles D. Estes

Chairman,

Accokeek Foundation