Program created for high school seniors impacted by pandemic

NOW: Program created for high school seniors impacted by pandemic

CASSOPOLIS, Mich. -- Some parents are working to give Ross Beatty High School seniors lasting memories despite the pandemic taking so many special moments away.

“Our 20 years was last year, in 2020, which was when the pandemic started and we had lots of adjustments, change of plans, postponements,” said Darla Ward, Treasurer of Project Graduation.

Realizing that the Class of 2021 may miss out on prom and a graduation ceremony – or at least have it look very different – organizers of the parent-run Project Graduation decided to add “Adopt a Senior.”

“A lot of the kids aren’t in school so we’re relying on the community more than we would, we’ve been doing fundraisers, raffles,” said Jason Smith, Vice-President of Project Graduation.

Just by posting a few details about themselves in the Facebook group, students received gifts over the holidays and will get more as graduation approaches.

“I posted things about me, a picture and then people started asking me, ‘Where can we send gifts to you?’ just to let me know I am appreciated,” said senior Huntter Wallace.

Plus, the plan is to continue the tradition of a senior party hosted by the parents, which will be the first time the entire class has been back together.

“Getting to see everybody, do some things as a class, because the unity has kind of been off since we’ve separated,” said senior Jamie Smith.

While anyone can still adopt a senior, parents say getting every student sponsored so quickly is one of those gifts of living in a small town.

“They’ve heard their names in football games, basketball, track, band – so even though they don’t ‘know’ them, they do,” said Tina Reick, Secretary of Project Graduation.

“I know almost all of the middle names of my classmates, I tell my cousins that who go to bigger schools, I love the small-town feel,” said senior Robert Ward.

Project Graduation is about $5,000 short of their typical fundraising amount.

Anyone who would like to donate or adopt a senior can contact Treasurer Ward.

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