Even though New Albany High School seniors have been robbed of many experiences and events that typically define graduation season, their community has come together to show them support and recognition during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
A Facebook group started by district parents, Adopt a New Albany High School 2020 Senior, gives people the opportunity to “adopt” one or more high school seniors by mailing them motivational gifts, including letters, cards, gift cards or snacks.
The page was inspired by a similar initiative for Pickerington Schools high schoolers.
New Albany resident Amy Ecleberry said she saw a post in her Facebook feed about an adopt-a-senior program for Pickerington students. She reached out to a few other New Albany parents, including her neighbor, Jill King.
Ecleberry has two students in the New Albany-Plain Local School District: 16-year-old sophomore Andrew and 14-year-old New Albany Middle School eighth-grader Brandon.
Ecleberry said she knew if they could get a similar initiative off the ground, the community would support it.
“The seniors deserve to be recognized for their hard work,” she said.
Ecleberry’s neighbor, King, is mother to 17-year-old senior Addie King. Her son, Will, graduated from New Albany High School in May 2019 and attends Ashland University.
King said parents may join the Facebook group and post their senior’s picture, along with details about the student’s hobbies, interests and plans for graduation. Anyone may adopt the senior by posting a comment on the photo post, she said.
“Adopting is really just showering the senior with a little extra love and support,” she said.
Some adopters take a gift basket to their senior, while others are sending weekly messages or daily texts, King said. Others give gift cards, drop off lunch or deliver balloons.
“There’s really just no limit,” she said.
Many seniors are getting adopted two and three times over by former elementary school teachers, friends, neighbors, other parents and even strangers, King said.
“It’s the community that’s making this happen,” she said.
Another district parent, Shelly Cavalancia, took on the responsibility of creating the Facebook group.
Cavalancia has a daughter, Sadie, who is an 18-year-old senior. Her two boys, Austin and Josh, are 28 and 25, respectively.
Because seniors are missing out on events associated with activities, such as sports and theater, they’re also losing out on community support, Shelly Cavalancia said. This initiative helps the students know that their community is behind them, she said.
Shelly Cavalancia said her daughter has been adopted four times, by two families they know and two families they don’t know.
“It’s just been fantastic,” she said.
One of her gifts was a card from a kindergarten student depicting a microphone, Shelly Cavalancia said. Sadie Cavalancia plans to attend Roosevelt University in Chicago to study musical theater.
Sadie Cavalancia said the card was something very special that made her feel loved.
She said children’s involvement in recognizing high school seniors makes her and her classmates feel like younger students are looking up to them.
Sadie Cavalancia also started an Instagram account, @nahsclass2020, to post pictures of seniors, along with their postgraduation plans.
“I think it’s cool to highlight everyone,” she said.