With traditional graduations likely off the table for the Class of 2020, one group of local parents has spearheaded efforts to honor all of the seniors in Austin County with a specialized gift from a community member who signs up to “adopt” a senior.
Melissa Prowell of Bellville created a Facebook group called “Adopt a Senior 2020 Austin County” and according to her list as of Sunday morning, there had been 125 seniors that were adopted from every corner of the county; 79 Bellville High School seniors, 32 Sealy High School seniors, nine seniors from Brazos High School, three seniors from Faith Academy of Bellville and one senior each at private schools Texas Challenge Academy as well as Penn Foster.
Prowell said anyone can nominate a senior, it does not have to be the student’s parent or guardian, by posting a message in the group with a few pictures and bio about the student. Nominations should include which school the student is associated with to assist the search parameters. Then, anyone who is also in the group can comment and say that they want to adopt the senior mentioned and there can be multiple adopters.
“It's between the commenter and the person who announced the adoption as to how they want to handle communication. They can do it directly on the page or they can private message one another,” Prowell said in a phone interview. “As far as what you do as an adopter, it can be something as simple as posting on that post every day some encouragement or sending a card or some people are going to buy gift certificates or they’ll make gift baskets and take it to them. We have a little sheet in the announcement of things they can fill out for things they like, just suggestions on their favorite colors, their favorite treat, etcetera.”
Prowell, who is on the project graduation board at Bellville High School, said she had seen plenty of groups pop up around the state and wanted to bring it to the Sealy area, finally doing so after a few people reached out to her.
“I had several parents hit me up asking, ‘Would you be interested in doing this for us?’ so I set the page up and it's really taken off,” Prowell said. “In the past I've seen the community come together and support during times like this.”
Prowell said the initial discussion was to keep in localized to Bellville but it eventually led to opening up to the whole county because people know each other in the next towns and it could be more of a group effort to elicit an even bigger response than what she’s gotten so far.
She said the posts nominating seniors come in waves but in the peak activity times, seniors are adopted within an hour of being posted. The group had already grown to 891 members by Sunday after being created April 21.
Above all else, Prowell hopes to use the group as a way to provide entertainment for a group of kids who are supposed to be experiencing the best year of their lives, she said.
“I'll try to come up with some hashtags each day like today I came up with #FunFriday and getting the seniors to post what they're doing for fun. Everyone can come up with different ideas and maybe see
something and think, ‘Oh well I hadn't thought of that, let's try this,’” Prowell said. “I just kind of want to keep them busy. We've got so many here, the Bellville class has about 167 students I want to say. But we just to keep them all motivated. It's their special time but it's really taken off and I'm really excited.”
What also made Prowell feel special personally was her own son, Nick, getting adopted by six community members, she said.
“It made me cry,” Prowell said. “He is very thankful and it made me feel blessed that he could be still recognized. He's lost out on so much just this semester. He was going to state (in which sport?) and some things, bi-district in some things and he had worked so hard from freshman year on to try and get to where he got. It feels like the rug was ripped out so (this can) make him feel like, ‘Hey, you know what, you still got it, kid.’”
To join the group, look up Adopt a Senior 2020 Austin County on Facebook and wait for a senior to be posted for adoption.