MALIBU ‚Äî Malibu High celebrated its 20th anniversary as a school last Friday with a memorable homecoming evening.
A crowd of approximately 1,000 people was on hand for pre-game ceremonies honoring the school and athletes, followed by the school‚Äôs first night football game in four years. The sights and sounds of the electric atmosphere were a spectacle to behold.
“I am so excited for the kids. This is a real high school environment,” first-year Malibu Principal Jerry Block said. “It‚Äôs a community event and everyone is having fun. It‚Äôs a real spark to the school spirit.”
After seven years of temporary lights followed by three seasons of only day football games, the “Bring on the Lights” campaign fundraised close to $500,000 for the installation of permanent football lights. At 6:02 p.m. Friday, the four sets of lights were turned on, making a dream into reality for many of the die-hard Malibu enthusiasts in attendance including MHS alumni, donors, school officials and students.
“It‚Äôs a labor of love. It took a long time but it‚Äôs for the kids and the kids deserve it,” Block said.
Actress and singer Nia Peeples choreographed a pre-game ceremony that included an Olympics-style parade of MHS athletes representing all sports. A ribbon-cutting highlighted the momentous occasion with the famous Olympic fanfare theme song blaring in the background.
Former Malibu Principal Mark Kelly, who was instrumental in the “Bring on the Lights” campaign, was on hand for the festivities.
“From the beginning we said that this was a wonderful way for the community to come together,” Kelly said. “It‚Äôs a place for the kids to have a safe, fun and enjoyable night. I‚Äôm just moved by it coming together the way that it did.
“This is just a special place. There is tremendous community support. It was such a pleasure to be here. It was one of the most professionally rewarding experiences I‚Äôve ever had.”
At half-time, Sharks football player Alden Quartz was named homecoming king and Alena Kaye was named homecoming queen.
“It‚Äôs special being voted by all your peers,” Quartz said after the game. “It was great to see the lights. It was a great turnout and I‚Äôm proud of the support from the community.”
“I feel so lucky. I‚Äôm very thankful that the student-body voted for me,” Kaye said. “It was so awesome. I feel fortunate to have been honored at this celebration.”
While the pomp of playing under the lights had many in attendance excited, the game itself was an unfortunate one for the Sharks. The Flashes of Fillmore ‚Äî and Mother Nature ‚Äî proved to be too much for MHS to handle on a windy night.
Fillmore (8-2, 4-0) dominated from the outset and won, 49-6, to clinch the Frontier League title. The Santa Ana winds were fierce throughout the game. The Sharks had to punt into the strong wind on consecutive possessions to open the game, giving Fillmore excellent field position. The Flashes capitalized and led 14-0 after the first quarter and never looked back.
Despite the outcome, Malibu Coach Ray Humphrey said he was proud of the way his 19 varsity players and several junior varsity players performed.
“These guys are just heart. We don‚Äôt have a lot of guys. We are not the biggest. We are not the fastest,” Humphrey said. “Our guys don‚Äôt care that their numbers are low. They just want to play football. It‚Äôs a beautiful thing to watch.”
Malibu (6-3, 2-1) next takes on Santa Clara under the lights Friday evening at 7 p.m. A victory would give the Sharks an automatic berth in the CIF East Valley Division playoffs.
This story first appeared in The Malibu Times.