Stay-at-home orders and school district closures have cut many students’ final year short, but local groups have made sure high school seniors still feel honored and supported.
A collection of concerned family members formed the Facebook group “Adopt a 2020 Senior from Tompkins, Schuyler and Chemung County” to “share all the love” with the graduating class.
Within the Tompkins, Schuyler and Chemung County group, students post brief introductory statements, including their high school and extracurricular activities. Then, supporting adult members can “adopt” them.
Group moderators encourage these members to send gifts, encouraging messages and other small forms of support to their students.
Student members have expressed their gratitude for the group’s positivity in light of personal struggles.
Cheianne Webster, a senior at Odessa-Montour Central School, told The Sun about her disappointment. She wished she didn’t have to miss out on important events like graduation, final sports matches and her school’s prom.
Tristin Morley also regrets the event cancellations at Watkins Glen High School. Her senior trip, all-night party, graduation and prom have all been cancelled indefinitely — losses that also come with a price tag.
“I spent $300 of my own money on a dress that I won’t be able to wear,” Morley said.
Destiny Daugherty, from Odessa-Montour, said the cancellations “took the fun out of the year.”
She appreciated the final days of her high school cheerleading career and the in-person moments with her friends, but wished they didn’t have to end so soon.
However, all three students told The Sun that they found a much-needed mood lift in the Facebook group.
“It’s a community of people coming together to help us seniors who are going through all this,” Webster said.
Morley said the group helped her and her peers, saying that it “put a smile on all of our faces.” She added that she was grateful for the support her community has provided outside of the Facebook group, appreciating her teachers and school organizations for their continual presence and optimism.
The PTO planted yard signs at all 82 senior houses that read “Home of a Watkins Glen Senecas Senior,” signed on the back with a “very kind note,” Morley said. Graduation signs are also springing up in front lawns in communities nationwide, as end-of-year ceremonies are thrown up in the air.
Although the pandemic has drastically altered these traditions, the support communities and an optimistic outlook have helped these seniors make the most out of their final semester.
Thanks to the Facebook group, Daugherty said she knows she’s “not alone through all of it.”
“Everyone is so positive, and having positivity about this thing really raises my spirit,” Daugherty said.