Topper spirit to heat up Wednesday night

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By Carol A. Clark

Cheerleaders, sports teams, band members, Los Alamos Youth Leadership participants and other students, teachers and staff intend to light the sky with Topper spirit Wednesday night.

The annual Los Alamos High School bonfire is being held to spur the Toppers on to victory against the Belen Eagles at Friday night’s Homecoming football game.

The community is invited to join in the fun beginning at 6 p.m. in the Sullivan Field Parking Lot by the ticket booth where Key Club members will sell hot chocolate and goodies. At 7 p.m., LAHS coaches will light the bonfire.

Wood and paper for the bonfire will be loaded during the lunch hour Wednesday at Sullivan Field under the supervision of Assistant Fire Chief/Fire Marshal Michael Thompson.

LAYL’s XBRD Team members Kory Archuleta and Chase Havemann met with Thompson to discuss plans for the bonfire.

“We met at the high school library and they were very enthusiastic,” Thompson said. “This is an annual project and the kids are trying to cover all the bases.”

The Los Alamos Fire Department is providing protection at the event including safety gloves. Firefighters will standby in case something unforeseen happens.

“I’ll go over Wednesday afternoon to review the bonfire and make sure it’s packed properly,” Thompson said.

LAYL’s XBRD Team members Paul Hemez, Shelby Stringer and Madison Ahlers each handled specific aspects in coordinating the project this year. Hemez contacted coaches and invited them to participate in the lighting honors. This is the sophomore’s first bonfire.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing all my friends and getting to watch the coaches light the bonfire,” Hemez said.

Stringer helped recruit Key Club members to sell hot chocolate and treats. She also recruited cheerleaders to kick up the spirit Wednesday evening.

“I’m really looking forward to getting the whole school together for something fun, and to see how many community members come out to show their support,” said Stringer, a senior who participated in last year’s bonfire. “It was really fun last year and that’s partially why I’m involved again this year.”

Ahlers, a sophmore, contacted Tom Littleton, the district’s facilities and transportation coordinator, to secure bonfire barrels, transportation, and make arrangements for sand to be placed on the Sullivan Field Parking Lot.

Other LAYL’s XBRD Team members intregal to the project’s success include Keanna Cohen who made arrangements with the Monitor for paper and wood.

She and Ahlers also posted approved flyers around the high school campus announcing the bonfire.  Bahram Banisdar recruited band members to play at the event. Chris Goen worked on various aspects of the project.

Kim McCormick of the Los Alamos County Parks and Recreation Department is providing the sound system and music for the event.

Sharon Stover is a LAYL founder and has been involved in LAHS bonfires for several years. She helped guide LAYL XBRD Team members on this year’s project.

“The idea for the bonfire event was initiated by LAYL students a few years ago and has become a wonderful community tradition,” Stover said. “It’s great to see Topper fans of all ages come out and support the football team for homecoming by participating in the bonfire.”

Longtime youth advocate Morrie Pongratz also worked with team members on the project and will introduce the coaches before they ignite the bonfire.