McGaheysville teacher dedicates display in her front lawn to 2020 seniors


A McGaheysville Elementary School teacher set up a special tribute on her front lawn to show how much the class of 2020 means to her, in a community event called #BeTheLightBRD.

Beginning at 8:20 p.m., lights will be turned on for 20 minutes to recognize the senior class. Why 8:20 p.m.? It is 20:20 in military time.

The Bull Run District is asking communities to share the #BeTheLightBRD message and turn on their porch lights in support of the students, but Heather Gigliotti went the extra mile to show her love for these students.

Gigliotti has worked at MES for 29 years. She now works as a reading instructor, but used to be a kindergarten teacher. The last kindergarten class she taught was in 2008; those students are now the graduating class of 2020.

In the candle and luminary display on her front lawn in Massanutten, Gigliotti honors the class of 2020.

Each luminary in the heart represents each of those students from her last kindergarten class, plus two for her niece and nephew.

The 140 candles forming the “2020” on her lawn represent each of the East Rockingham High School seniors. The students in the arch represent the other 2008 MES students in other classrooms.

Gigliotti said it was very important for her final class of kindergarten students to know that she was there for them and that they are celebrated.

“It’s emotional for me because I love these kids, and I miss them and I know how hard it is for them,” Gigliotti said. “They’re an amazing group of kids and they are definitely a light in my life. No matter how old they are, they’ll still be my kids.”

She said she wants the graduating students to be able to have closure before moving onto the next chapter of their lives.

“I want everyone to know that they matter, and that their families matter, and that I’ve always believed in them and I will continue to believe in them,” Gigliotti said. “I want them to know how loved they are.”

Each night this week, East Rockingham High School will be turning on lights on the school’s fields as a symbol of hope and assurance that the class of 2020 is in their hearts.

For the rest of the week, the community can show their support for the class of 2020 by turning on their porch lights from 8:20 p.m. to 8:40 p.m. to #BeTheLightBRD