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Making Memories at Memorial Field

One evening this fall, some select fans brought a different perspective to a State College Area High School home football game.


As in, closer to the ground.


Several wide-eyed kindergarteners joined players for the pregame coin toss, a highlight of the State College Area School District’s annual Kindergarten Night at Memorial Field to welcome new families. 


This year’s turnout, the largest so far, has inspired plans to expand the event to different seasons, as well as organize other promotions to invite more of the public to enjoy the renovated stadium. More than 500 kindergarteners and family members attended as special guests.


“Our purpose for Kindergarten Night is to build communities within our district and provide opportunities for families to participate in a fun night that also supports our high school students,” Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education Danielle Yoder says. “It’s a way to allow our kindergarten students to see a sport and get recognition for being part of our SCASD family.”


State High football players and cheerleaders lay the groundwork by visiting elementary schools.


Our students were so excited, especially after players and cheerleaders who went to Gray’s Woods came to their classes,” Gray’s Woods Elementary Principal Kristen Dewitt says. “Their families and teachers appreciated being included and were so proud of their children. Inviting two students from each building to be on the field for the coin toss was something those kids will never forget.”


Neither will the players, according to State High football coach Matt Lintal, who says “themed games have become a fantastic way to reach out and connect our school with the larger community.”


“The positive impact that our high school students can have on youth is evident in the smiles and cheers coming from these kids at our games,” Lintal says. “We’re grateful to be part of a community that recognizes that Friday Nights are about a lot more than football and that everyone has a role in creating a kind, generous and respectful culture.”


Kindergarten Night has become so popular, in fact, Assistant Athletic Director Loren Crispell envisions spreading the event he helped grow to other sports, starting this winter.


“It’s been a really rewarding experience for everyone,” Crispell says.


Based on the night’s success, the athletic department might hold other athletic themed nights. For example, Crispell says, games could recognize student-athletes’ neighborhoods or influential teachers.


Additionally, more Memorial Field community events like this year’s Youth Football Night to honor recreation teams could be in store. Possibilities include nights for first responders, scout troops or retirement communities. Crispell notes that the district’s online ticketing system makes organizing such events easier than before — from offering group discounts to communicating information.


Paul Leskowicz, the State High director of bands, would love to have a Band Night with band members in grades 4-12 performing with the marching band, or a night for band alumni to join in. In the meantime, he likes the increased attendance due, in part, to the themed nights.


“It certainly provides a wider exposure to the band and hopefully plants seeds for the future,” he says.


As a SCASD Education Foundation board member and lifelong State College resident, Mary Kay Montovino also approves of drawing more of the community to Memorial Field with special events.


“I have witnessed firsthand the generosity that our community has shown through the donations received by the foundation in support of initiatives, including the Memorial Field Campaign, which benefit all students of SCASD,” she says. “The newly renovated stadium is now a facility to be proud of and we have the community to thank for their support. I hope that these special events will rekindle that sense of community and school spirit so that the tradition of ‘standing room only’ at Memorial Field returns.” 


By Chris Rosenblum

Photos by Nabil K. Mark