The Last Class on the Grass


Brandi Marlin

The Class of 2020 is set to be the last class to graduate on Crawford Stadium as we know it.

As students, we walked into North Penn School District never imagining graduation would come so quickly. The moment is finally here, but let’s be honest, we arrive with mixed feelings. 

So many of us are frustrated that we missed our senior prom or lost our spring sports seasons or that we don’t get a traditional graduation in Crawford Stadium like the classes before us. As a matter of fact, North Penn is renovating Crawford Stadium right after we graduate. So, I guess that makes us, 2020,  the last class on this grass. 

Take that in. In many ways this stadium is revered, and for decades students have received their diplomas in this very place. But why is it revered? Who is the Crawford of Crawford Stadium?  

As I sought to answer that question, I discovered something interesting. The Class of 2020 aren’t the only ones who have lost something and had to make sacrifices.  Jim Crawford Sr, for whom our stadium is named, was the first track and field coach here at North Penn.  But, before that, he had to leave our community for 4 years to serve as a Lieutenant Commander in World War Two from 1942 until 1946.  Prime years of teaching and coaching were taken from him. 

But somehow he made his time after the war really count. Jim Crawford is one of the winningest coaches in North Penn history. He won multiple league and district championships, and the number of students and athletes he impacted is immeasurable. He did not let a detour in his life prevent him from living his best life, and he took the setback as a chance to learn and grow.

And here we are, the last class on the grass in the stadium named for this great man. We, too, have experienced some setbacks, just like Coach Crawford, so what would he want his stadium to teach us before we take our diplomas and go? 

Maybe it’s simply this: Just like Coach Crawford, our detour has opened up new possibilities, new ideas, new chances if we look for them. 

And perhaps that’s how it will be. Being able to see the uniqueness of this moment, to celebrate it, just may help us seize the great moments that are yet to come for us. Our best moments, contributions, and successes, like those of Jim Crawford Sr, will come after this void. We may not stand shoulder to shoulder and throw our caps into the air, but there’s something exciting about what we will do. 

What will we learn from this senior year  experience that no other class has had? And how will it shape us into the best we can be, just like Coach Crawford?

Take a moment and look at the grass in Crawford Stadium before it transforms into artificial turf.. It gave us wonderful memories like going to the football games and filling up the student section. We waited to see who won homecoming king and queen. Our impressive marching band gave amazing performances. And, yes, we saw other classes fill the seats for their graduation. 

But now it’s our turn as the class of 2020 to leave our own mark. Instead of seeing an empty stadium at graduation,  can you see the stadium is actually full? It is full of the memories of time we’ve spent here at North Penn, full of experiences we have had here at Crawford Stadium, and also full of all the landmark moments of all the people before us that have shaped North Penn before we even got here.

It would be wrong of me if I did not talk about how this great field has the nickname that many students know it as. THE SWAMP. No matter how many times a game has been rained out or a senior class has worried their graduation would be postponed. I would not have wanted to go anywhere else to cap off my life as a North Penn student in the unique class of 2020, the last class on the grass.

If Jim Crawford Sr. were here today, he would probably ask us to take this adversity in our lives as a chance to seize the future. He would see us learning from the lessons of frustration but also being happy for the moments we got here at North Penn. For years to come, will people look back and remember 2020 as the last class that was supposed to walk on this grass? NO! We will forever be the first class who drove on the grass. 

Jim Crawford is just like us, 75 years ago his life changed out of nowhere when he left for the war, but that did not stop him from living the best life he could after that, so why should it stop us? Class of 2020 the last few months have not been easy. But we can celebrate the amazing times we’ve had here at North Penn because, you know why? We are the last class on this grass and the only class to ever drive on it and no one can take that from us. No virus or pandemic can take away that the class of 2020 is not like any other, and we are the ones capping off the chapter of Crawford Stadium, and our best days are yet to come.

To Coach Crawford, whose life story shows us, our best days are yet to come-  I am beyond grateful for the times and memories here. But, I am most proud to be a member of the class of 2020, the last class on the grass!