Trustees of Mountain View-Los Altos high school district made their decision Oct. 8 in front a near-capacity crowd gathered inside the Alta Vista High School multipurpose room.
The board meeting was moved to Alta Vista to accommodate the large crowd of students, parents and other community members — some in favor of hosting a night game and some against.
Those in favor argued that it would be great for school spirit, saying the event would not cost the district more than a regular daytime game because all additional costs are being covered by the MVHS Athletic Boosters and other sponsors. Proponents said that the district would likely make money on additional ticket and concession sales.
"I'm stoked," Dean Trammell, an MVHS junior, said after the board voted.
Those opposed to the idea — mostly neighbors living around the school's perimeter — said they worried about noise, light pollution, traffic, drug and alcohol use (of teens and adults alike), and general hooliganism. Some worried that there is a hidden agenda to eventually open the door to more night games in the future and install permanent lights on the school's football field.
"We have no voice whatsoever with the school district," said Victor, whose home abuts the school. He asked that his last name not be used for fear that vindictive teens might vandalize his home.
"They do what they want," he said of the school board. "It was preordained as a railroad job. They made a publicized comment that they wanted neighbor involvement, but they didn't listen, they just do what they want."
The same arguments were heard at the Oct. 3 community forum in the the Alta Vista multipurpose room. That discussion was heated but civil. The Oct. 8 gathering was decidedly more heated, and there was at least one argument between two men.
"The point of doing this game is to build school spirit," JJ Kapp said at the Oct. 3 meeting.
Kapp is vice president of the MVHS Athletic Boosters Club and parent of a sophomore. The school's sports teams have all been improving, advancing further in the season and participation is up in certain athletic activities, he told the room. "Now the time is right to build school spirit."
After the Oct. 3 meeting, Martin VanRyswyk said that he felt the Athletic Boosters were trying to pull a quarterback sneak with the proposal. "It's a strategy," VanRyswyk said, recalling that the boosters were "chastised" once already by the MVLA board of trustees for not including the community in their planing for this night game. So they are holding a "perfunctory meeting," and hoping they can "ram" the proposal through at the upcoming board meeting, he charged.
"We're not trying to 'ram' anything through," Kapp responded to VanRyswyk's charge.
The reason his group has been working so rapidly, Kapp said, is that the school year has only recently begun and the boosters simply want the students and the community to be able to rally around the team — not to mention the cheerleaders, the band and the dance squad who are also slated to perform at the event.
At the meeting two community members who addressed the board said they had seen a petition floating around that called for the eventual installation of permanent lights on the campus.
Many of the school board members said they wished the Boosters had done a better job including the community in the discussions. Several of them reminded the Boosters that they had been instructed at the Sept. 24 board meeting to include the entire community in the Oct. 3 community forum — by Kapp's own admission, only the homes closest to the perimeter of the school received fliers about the community forum
"I'm disappointed that the community was not involved sooner and more thoroughly," Phil Faillace, president of the MVLA district board said.
But the board still approved the night game — emphasizing that it is only one game, that there are no plans for any other night games this season, and that there are no plans to erect permanent lights on the MVHS football field.
Joseph Florez, a senior on the football team, and his younger sister, Angelica, were elated.
"Words can't describe how I feel right now," Joseph said.
"I was extremely happy," Angelica chimed in. "I'll get to cheer with my brother at the night game."