CCHS graduating seniors “adopted” by community
By BRITTANY FHOLER
As the weeks of staying at home due to COVID-19 drag on, high school seniors are facing an uncertain time regarding class work, graduation and more.
While the Copperas Cove Independent School District has not yet announced the plans for graduation during this time of pandemic, students are worried about missing out on key moments of their senior year of high school.
A group on Facebook, called Adopt a Senior: Central Texas, hopes to bring some joy and happiness to the lives of the thousands of Central Texas high school seniors. Family members of local graduating seniors post photos and a blurb about their student, and other group members can comment and adopt the student. The family member and the adopter then message each other and go from there.
Group founder Stacy Sanders lives in Temple, but her daughter has attended schools in Rogers, Belton and now Temple High School. After seeing a similar group focused on one high school in another state, Sanders created Adopt a Senior: Central Texas and initially thought the group would be small and be an area for students to communicate with each other and for their friends and families to send them small things, like a card.
The Facebook group took off. There are more than 9,700 members and 1,500 high school seniors have been adopted as of Monday.
Local businesses have expressed interest in donating items to the seniors, and the group holds Facebook live sessions to give away these donated items to the students.
“It’s really just all about making the kids smile and giving them something to look forward to and letting them know that we know they’re hurting,” Sanders said. “I mean, obviously, I have a senior here, so she knows that I care, but just to know that more than your mom or your dad or your community- you know, having your community stand behind you and all of us rally together, I think it boosts their morale, and it makes them know that we are sorry this happened, and we are going to do our best to show them that we care, and we care about their accomplishments and that none of that’s gone unnoticed.”
This effort is giving both the seniors and their adopters something to look forward to, she added.
“In a world where there’s so much chaos with the pandemic, and then we have murders and just crazy stuff that happens, something like this is kind and teaches people that there are still good people in the world that care, and it’s making people come out of their own shell and want to give back to others and be good to people,” Sanders said.
The purpose is not to send giant care packages or spend lots of money.
“It’s not about money, and it’s not about the biggest gift somebody sends,” Sanders said. “It’s about the care and concern,” Sanders said.
Something as simple as a card or a hand-written letter expressing a message of support could go a long way.
Several Copperas Cove High School seniors have been adopted, including CCHS Varisty Football and Baseball player Peyton Fox.
Fox said that he misses his friends the most.
“I just miss all of my friends, that’s my main thing. I just want to be back in school and see all of them,” Fox said. “This makes me realize how much I really do miss school, sitting at home being bored.”
Being adopted by a local family and waiting to see what they send to show their support is giving him something to look forward to, though.
Micah Sedillo, 17, transferred from Copperas Cove High School to Crossroads High School last November. She started the school year as a junior and was told about a week or two before school closed down that she could graduate this year if she wanted to.
“Schools closing hasn’t really affected me in any negative ways. If anything, it’s pushing me to do more and be more active.
“My school is a self-paced program. We work online and do face-to-face classes to graduate on time or early. The bad side to all this is my parents may not get to see me walk the stage, and I may not get to experience prom - something I’ve been looking forward to since I was little.
“Adopt a Senior is such an amazing thing. It brings encouragement and hope to the seniors that may be struggling with the transition. It shows that even during a time of madness there is still good people in this world.”
Denise Byrd-Creech adopted Sedillo.
“I think it’s a wonderful way to celebrate seniors in a way that no one has done before, especially with the fact that they possibly can’t have a graduation ceremony,” Creech said. “By doing this, it’s giving them an opportunity to create a memory of their special moment.”
For Ja’Quaria Johnson, her senior year was proving to be the first year of her high school career where she wasn’t hospitalized and having to miss school.
During her freshman year, Johnson became very sick and ended up needing to have fluid from her lungs drained and was in the ICU for nine days. She was eventually diagnosed with lupus and has since experienced flare ups that caused a stroke her sophomore year, a heart attack her junior year and have put her in the hospital over and over.
This year, she started an internship at a local veterinary clinic in October and was looking forward to her final year of high school.
“I was really surprised when this whole virus thing broke out because it’s like I was doing so well, and we had started breaking the habit of getting hospitalized and not missing school, keeping track of my attendance and stuff and the this happened, and we’re not going to school at all,” Johnson said. “
I was not expecting it, but I’m not going to say it’s not normal for me to miss so much school in a grade year for high school.”
In her post in the Adopt a Senior Facebook group, Johnson’s mom, Nicole Johnson, shares that even if there is a graduation ceremony, Ja’Quaria’s immune system is too far gone, and the risk is too high for her to attend.
She thought the focus of the group was a wonderful thing, though.
“I feel like life has kind of stopped for us, and it’s a time of reflection, and I’m excited they’re taking that time to think about the seniors, especially the Class of 2020,” Nicole said.
She explained that it’s not just the uncertainty of graduation. The Class of 2020 likely won’t get to experience their senior trips, senior prom and more.
“They didn’t even have a time really to have ‘Senioritis’,” Nicole said. “They didn’t have that because it was just kind of taken away from them.”
Nicole explained that she graduated 20 years ago and still remembers things like they were yesterday.
“I think the hardest part with them going through this is those memories are never going to be made,” Johnson said. “An Amazon package from someone that has adopted a senior, it’s something that brings a little joy to this devastating time.”
Ja’Quaria said she found out about the group on Friday and was excited.
“The thought of people wanting to help benefit seniors is just really uplifting, and the fact that people want to adopt me is even more uplifting because I had no idea,” Ja’Quaria said.