The lights of the Mt. Battie star shone red and white the evening of May 13, to celebrate Camden Hills Regional High School graduating seniors, and start the 30-day countdown to graduation.

Peter Rollins, Randy Stearns and the volunteers who light the star each evening, added the red bulbs, and invited Valedictorian Robyn Walker-Spencer and Salutatorian Sophia Campbell to flip the switch and turn on the lights.

Rollins and Stearns planned the event with Camden Hills Principal Shawn Carlson. The high school ordered the red bulbs for the star, which arrived May 12.

Nancy Rowe, who is retiring at the end of the school year, was also there to celebrate the unique event. She has served as the high school's band director, instructor and Visual and Performing Arts Chairwoman for the past 33 years.

On top of the mountain, May 13, Carlson said, "I just want to tell everybody how proud we are of these graduates and all our students and staff, and how much we all miss them. We hope that these last 30 days are as joyful as they can make them."

The star will shine with the Camden Hills school colors for the remainder of the week. With sunset around 8 p.m., the time Camden Hills State Park closes, community members are asked to view the town icon and honor town graduates from downtown locations.

The 30-day countdown to graduation usually begins with a large sign hanging over the high school lobby.

With the school building, closed since March 16, a banner signed by the class of 2020, when they were freshman, was wrapped around one side of the historic stone tower.

Also beginning May 13, Camden Hills is recognizing 10 seniors each school day on the school's Facebook page with photos and comments from teachers.

In addition, senior Sophie Ernst has created a virtual representation on Instagram of the wall of graduates traditionally seen on the CHRHS office wall at https://www.instagram.com/chillsseniors2020/.

Rollins and a crew of volunteers erected the star on top of Mt. Battie April 6, to provide a symbol of hope, as the community began to face the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Erecting the star is no small effort, and this year with state restrictions in place, Rollins had to obtain permission from the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, a process that took weeks. Each evening since April 6, volunteers have manually lit the star, which is powered by a generator. The star will have lit the night sky for 40 days by May 15, and is scheduled to be taken down over the weekend.

For 54 years the star on Mt. Battie has shone from Thanksgiving Day through New Year’s Eve. This is the first time it has ever been erected outside of the holiday season.