After school, prom, and countless graduation parties were cancelled for the seniors at Delaware Hayes High School, one local mother started a Facebook group in hopes the community would show its support for local soon-to-be high school graduates.
The “Adopt a 2020 Senior at Rutherford B. Hayes” Facebook page was started April 21, and it currently has more than 1,100 members. The group is dedicated to “adopting” a senior at Hayes and buying them items from a wish-list.
The group’s creator, Nina Cantrell, said she saw the idea before and wanted to do it for students at Hayes.
“I had noticed that other schools had similar groups and thought it would be great for our seniors at Hayes,” Cantrell said. “The group’s purpose is to uplift seniors’ spirits and spread cheer into their lives, while showing them that the community cares and has not given up hope.”
Cantrell said it is “the least we can do” considering the way the final semester has turned out for Hayes seniors.
“As a parent of a 2020 senior, I understand what most seniors are experiencing,” she said. “The end of their senior year (and activities) such as sports, clubs, prom and graduation was stolen from them, leaving them (feeling) uncertain, anxious, angry, upset, or any other acceptable feeling. I feel that the least we can do as a community is spread kindness and show the seniors that they matter!”
After the group was created, hundreds of Delaware residents joined and began “adopting” and supporting local seniors.
“I was amazed how quickly it took off,” Cantrell said. “The group had over a 1,000 members in a matter of a few days, and seniors were being adopted within minutes of being posted. Supporters were asking to adopt more than one senior or asked if more than one person could adopt a senior. I am so thankful for this community and the support they have given. Many of the seniors have expressed how loved they feel and are so appreciative of everyone.”
Cantrell’s daughter, Aleisa Tobin, is a senior at Hayes. While she’s disappointed with the end of her school career at Delaware City Schools, she’s trying to find the positives.
“Honestly, I was quite devastated, but I feel like deep down I knew school was not going to be reopened,” Tobin said. “I am trying to have a ‘glass half full’ attitude about the cancellation, but sometimes it is hard. I am sure my class feels the exact same way, but we all have to remain strong and remember to count our blessings.”
Tobin said she is thankful for the group her mother started and how supportive the community has been.
“I think the group is very supportive and encouraging,” she said. “I admire the positive comments that members of the community leave on each and every senior’s posts and the time they take out of their days to show us they care. I am very appreciative for my family, the school, the community, and ultimately the love my class have received.”
Tobin said she and many of her classmates have been adopted and supported by the group.
“Many of my friends, as well as myself, have been adopted,” Tobin said in an email Monday. “We would like to thank everyone for the outpouring love and support they have shown us. We also would like to tell the under classes to keep hope … I would like to give a little shout-out to my mom and the other organizers of the group! You all are amazing to dedicate your time to create the group, organize it, and answer questions! …Go Pacers!”
Cantrell said it’s her goal that every senior at Hayes who is interested in participating is “adopted” by the community.
“My hope for the group is that every senior who permits being ‘adopted,’ is adopted!” Cantrell said. “It’s not about the gifts or materials, this group is based off of the purpose for seniors to be recognized and for community members to celebrate the seniors! During these uncertain times, I feel we have to keep a positive outlook and have compassion. Again, thank you to all! Class of 2020, you matter!”
More information about the group can be found at https://www.facebook.com/groups/219217782700425/.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.