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By Sarah Pleiman

Most people look back at the end of their high school career with fond memories of final gatherings and celebrations with friends and family. The senior class of 2020 was unable to enjoy these traditional milestones, but they were able to be supported in a more unorthodox way. Through a group created on Facebook, Newberry High School and Paradise Seniors were “adopted” by various members of the community. This project helped bring the community together to recognize our graduating class, raise their spirits, and give them some fond memories to cherish.

LaShawn Edwards created the “Adopt a Class of 2020 NHS/Paradise Senior” Facebook group in an effort to connect graduating students and their parents with members of the community. It was an idea she had seen taking place in other communities and she was sure ours would be just as supportive.

Each senior could be adopted by more than one individual or family, and Edwards made sure that each senior was adopted at least twice. Two seniors could not participate because of military or other obligations that took them out of town.

Each senior that wished to participate had a post listing his/her name, future plans, and a few of their favorite things – like favorite drinks, snacks, colors, and hobbies. Sponsors created gift baskets oriented around these preferences and delivered them to their adopted senior.

Georgia French heard about the adopt-a-senior project from her daughter, and quickly jumped on board to help out. After witnessing the generosity of this community through the various clubs, sports groups, and other organizations, Georgia and her husband, Bill, enjoy giving back to the community.

While French has gotten to know many of the local youth through hockey teams, this year she didn’t personally know any of the graduating seniors. When she was given a list of three names to choose from, her husband said to support all three.

“Let’s bless somebody,” he told her. Georgia enjoyed being a part of this project because this year’s seniors lost out on so many special, last time big moments. She just wanted them to feel special.

The “Class of the Quarantined” certainly is special, and will have final memories of high school unlike any class before them.

“From the handful of seniors I spoke with personally, they were very appreciative and excited to see the gifts from those who adopted them,” Edwards said. “Many have chosen to forego graduation parties due to COVID and this was a great way for them to be acknowledged for their hard work throughout the years.”