A packed stadium full of Dover-Sherborn residents filled Nathaniel Frothingham Stadium on Friday night to take part in the dedication of the newly reconstructed football field at Dover-Sherborn High School.
As the Raiders battled Hopkinton on the field, youth athletes from every sport joined high school athletes in getting ready and in the right place for a procession of athletes coming into the field area and heading onto the field as they walked together holding up signs with their sport on them.
The field, which already sports the initials "NES" at midfield, was to be named Nora Searle Field, after the 14-year-old eighth grader who lost her battle with cancer last April. Many of Nora's friends, now high school freshmen, participated in the ceremony, and from speaking with people who knew her it's easy to tell that even if her name were not permanently etched into the football field and now on the scoreboard, she's not someone that people will forget.
"In general, most children are very resilient," Bethany Walker, the middle school nurse, said last week. "But Nora had maturity beyond her years. She loved being in school. She was a social butterfly. She was a people pleaser who didn't want to be different. She always smiled."
At halftime, as the procession of athletes stopped, Superintendent of Schools Valerie Spriggs took the microphone first and began thanking people, including the Booster Club and school administrators.
"One of the joys is having a partnership with the boosters, who said this field is for all of Dover-Sherborn," Spriggs said.
Spriggs also singled out Frank Pearlmutter, saying that he had "redefined Raider Power."
Pearlmutter spoke next and told how he was approached by a member of the community who wanted to make a donation to the Boosters in Nora's honor if he received her family's blessing. He said that the field was possible because of the people who made donations, and he thanked people for making them.
Bill Schatard told the crowd how the donors want the field thought of as a "field of dreams." Everyone turned their attention to the scoreboard and Nora's name was lit up.
"She touched a lot of people," Middle School Assistant Headmaster Scott Kellett said last week when asked about Nora.
Nora also inspired many of her friends and classmates in school. Like most offices in schools, the nurse's office in the middle school wasn't exactly beautifully decorated. Nora made sure that changed, and it's a story that Walker seems to enjoy telling.
"When she would come into my office she'd be so fatigued and we'd talk," Walker said. "She said that Children's Hospital has more color than my office."
With that Nora began to design a mural for the wall, and several students took part in painting it. The mural stands in the school nurse's office as a tribute to Nora.
Friends of Nora's also raised over $3,000 for the Jimmy Fund. They came up with the idea of selling bracelets similar to the "Live Strong" ones, but instead the bracelets read "Nora Believe."
After the three speeches at halftime, Dover-Sherborn and Hopkinton took the field to play another half of football. The Raiders fell, 37-18.