“Adopt-a-Senior” program celebrates Class of 2020


Photo Credit: Teri Kirsch

Senior Abby Kirsch poses with gifts given by her “adoptive” family.

by Jenny DeStefano, Managing Editor

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to drastically alter lives and moments, the GRHS Class of 2020 received more than just their diplomas through the community’s Adopt-a-Senior program. 

The Adopt-a-Senior program has been circulating the country as an unofficial way for communities to celebrate graduates. The initiative connects families across town to one senior and aims to carry out small acts of kindness to commemorate the student’s achievements throughout high school. Since traditional events were cancelled or postponed, 22-year-long resident Louise D’Amato opted to start a chapter in Glen Rock after hearing the idea on the news. 

“As the quarantine restrictions were constantly changing, the realization of the graduating class having a traditional senior year did not appear to be in their future. These events were what the seniors looked forward to all year,” D’Amato said. “When I heard about Adopt-A-Senior programs on the news, I thought it was a perfect opportunity to directly celebrate and uplift their spirits.”

To launch the program, D’Amato developed a FaceBook page where senior parents and prospective “adoptive” families could interact and get a sense of each graduate’s personality and future college endeavors. D’Amato also got in contact with senior parent and Grad Ball Co-Chair Elizabeth Carr, who assisted in adding senior parents to the page. There, parents could post photos and brief bios of their seniors so that “adoptive families” could get to know them, while D’Amato worked to organize “adoption.”

“ I began the ‘adopting process’ by contacting the parents of my daughter’s junior class via text and through HSA email blasts,” D’Amato said. “Once all the adoptive parents joined the group, I would assign them a senior that may have some common connection: GRHS, social circles, proximity or alma mater, etc.”

Once “adopted,” seniors received gifts and goodies from their adoptive families, such as cards, flowers, balloons, baked goods, college apparel, and more.

“My adoptive family drove to my house, honked, yelled, and cheered from their cars, and then came out and gave me my gift,” senior Ana Lindley said. “My adoptive family happened to be really good friends of my mom and my family so it made the gift all the more special. It was very personalized to my interests and also my college.”

D’Amato continues to receive positive feedback, as seniors feel cared about through special and thoughtful acts of kindness thanks to the Adopt-a-Senior initiative.

“I thought that this project was so sweet and such a good idea! It made a lot of my classmates, including myself, very happy,” senior Jordan Carr said. “It was such a nice pick-me-up during this hard time.”

Seniors also expressed gratitude for all those involved in organizing and conducting the program.

“I want to thank not only my ‘adoptive’ family, but also everyone who has decided to do this for us seniors, because it really makes our days so special,” senior Devin Croake said.

Currently, all GRHS seniors who joined and were posted on the page have been “adopted,” but there are still approximately 50 students from the class who remain unadopted. Regardless, D’Amato claims that it is not necessary to have a FaceBook profile to participate, and aims to have the entire Class of 2020 “adopted” by the end of June.

As seniors inch ever closer to graduation and life beyond high school, D’Amato commends the Class of 2020 for their resilience and strength throughout these frustrating and confusing times, as well as hopes that they will remember the generosity of the community from this program. 

“To the Class of 2020: …Take care of yourself and take care of others,” D’Amato said. “Stay hopeful, be kind, pay it forward when possible, and wash your hands!”

*If you are interested in getting involved in the Glen Rock Adopt-a-Senior program, contact Louise D’Amato at [email protected] for more information.*