Celebrating The Graduates

Leander Mom Starts Community Group, Helps Coordinate Gifts To Seniors

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photo by Lacie Perry

Holding her basket of gifts, senior Sarah Rodriguez thanks her adoption family. "I got adopted through my church," Rodriguez said. "I am so thankful for the kind woman who chose me and thought about how stressed we all are right now."

Lacie Perry, Reporter

 The COVID-19 virus may have taken away spring sports, prom and traditional graduation plans, but it can’t take away their celebration, thanks to one mom, Lisa Hunt, who started the “Adopt a Senior” group on Facebook for LISD seniors. 

The “Adopt a Senior” was created in central Texas during the Coronavirus Pandemic. Hunt said she wanted to be able to do something nice for the seniors who cannot graduate, and for her daughter, who would be the first out of her children to graduate high school. 

“I started ‘Adopt a Senior’ because none of my children have graduated high school,” Hunt said. “Every year we prepare them to graduate, but then something comes up and they are unable to. My daughter was so ready to graduate, we got everything ready and I was so excited because one of them was finally going to make it, and then the pandemic happened and it was all ruined, and I was crushed.” 

Originally the whole idea was just going to be within some of Hunt’s friend’s families, but then it spread to Facebook and it reached hundreds of people who are now celebrating seniors. 

“In the beginning I just wanted to do something nice for my daughters’ friends because they were devastated,” Hunt said. “I know some people at several different high schools around Texas and so I sent gifts to some kids and their parents started doing the same with their friends. Eventually it just kind of boomed and spread everywhere.” 

With the pandemic affecting so many families, parents from across town have begun to adopt seniors to spread a little love to them in these troubled times. In order to have a senior become adopted, a parent has to post a picture and small paragraph about their student and imply that they are available to be adopted. The members of the group will read each post and adopt whoever they wish, they will then get in contact with the parents of the senior and send the student baskets of goodies. 

Showing off her new shirt, senior Mary-Paige Perry reminisces about the meaning behind it. “I couldn’t believe someone would think about me that much to get me something like this,” Perry said. “The back of the t-shirt says ‘Every morning you have two choices, continue to sleep with your dreams, or wake up and chase them’ and that quote is really meaningful to me because you only live once and for me to be able to get up and do things without having to question why I’m doing it means so much. It’s crazy that my adoption family would put that quote on this shirt.” (photo courtesy of Hope Perry)

“It fills my heart with exploding joy to make others feel special,” Rachel Humphreys said. “The young lady I adopted started knocking on my door years ago as just a little lady selling Girl Scout cookies. She did this for years. As she grew older and has now grown into a young woman, we no longer got to see her on our doorstep selling us cookies. We now would see her pushing herself to be the best runner. I chose her because she is special and driven, point being she is beyond deserving and it is my pleasure to adopt such a lovely young lady.”

Other parents, such as Gina Johnson, have had special bonds with many students because she teaches in Leander ISD. Because she has known so many students, she wanted to make her bond stronger as she celebrated the seniors. 

“I wanted to adopt because if you go through Leander ISD, you will always be our student,” Johnson said. “I chose my senior because I have always had a close bond with her and have been blessed to keep in touch with her family. I am so proud of her accomplishments and what an amazing lady she is. It is wonderful to see how many contributing members of society are coming together from Leander ISD, especially during a difficult time.” 

The “Adopt a Senior” has reached many seniors across town, one senior, Sarah Rodriguez, was surprised to find out that she had been adopted, and grateful that someone would think about her during these times. 

“When I first found out that someone had adopted me I was a little confused,” Rodriguez said. “It’s just crazy to think that someone actually wants to do something nice, and celebrate us just because we don’t get a graduation. I’m so thankful, though, that I was adopted and was able to receive some really thoughtful gifts, and I think the whole idea of the adoption is amazing and so nice.” 

Even though Hunt started the whole project, she doesn’t take credit for all of the success, she said it was a team effort, and she was just glad she could have been a part of it. 

“I can’t really say how it feels to have started something like this because I didn’t do it alone,” Hunt said. “I had two other moms help me with it and communicate to other people about it. I’m just happy that I was able to do something for the seniors and  bring them a little joy at home.”