Being a high school senior amid the coronavirus pandemic has come with cancellations of prom, sports seasons, graduations and goodbyes to friends, but a Facebook page has helped alleviate some of those burdens for more than 10,000 graduates nationwide.

The National Adopt a 2020 Senior Project has gained a lot of interactions since it started on April 6, and some Douglas County students and parents have chimed in.

South Umpqua High School senior Makayla Griffin said, “It has been very uplifting for my friends and me, and I encourage other seniors to look into it.”

The group was started by Raynee Branch of Bonney Lake, Washington, who wanted to “shower our seniors with some extra love.”

Through the website, seniors can be “adopted” by fellow members of the group and exchange addresses to receive letters, cards, gifts, snacks, or anything else they may like.

Griffin was nominated by her mother, Lisa Griffin, too.

“Since the beginning of her education Makayla has worked very hard in school,” Lisa Griffin wrote. “She has been able to earn all A’s since kindergarten due to her determination.”

Each senior, or the person who nominates the senior, shares a little bit of their story, often including how COVID-19 and school closures have impacted them.

Milo Adventist Academy senior Melanie Beasley wrote, “I have learned and grow so much the last few weeks. I have realized that I was not on the path that God wanted for me. And throughout this life changing experience, even through I may not get a class trip or a graduation I am great full to God for turning this disaster into an experience that has changed my life for the better.”

Allie Wright, a senior at Roseburg High School, posted about her desire to study early childhood education and was adopted by a family whose daughter shared the same dream.

Alessya McDermott said she wrote about her son, Oakland High School senior Dakota Percell, because “all the seniors have had their lives turned upside down by COVID. I wanted him to have some positive memory from all of this, not just everything he’s missing out on.”

Percell played four years of football, three years of basketball and was expected to be a four-year starter for the high school baseball team.

McDermott wrote, “He’s always gotten decent grades but honestly had never put in much effort. The beginning of this school year he told me that this year would be different and he was going ‘actually try’ lol, which he managed to accomplish. He had a 3.68 GPA for this year going into quarantine; this included 2 college classes that he took thru his high school. He is going to attend Umpqua Community College in the fall to start working towards an MBA. Dakota loves his family and his friends. He’s very outgoing and social; and funny. His dad and I are super proud of him.”

Percell received a box full of snacks, a baseball movie and a Star Wars mug in his care package from his adopted family in Tennessee.

In return, McDermott and Percell adopted a high school senior from Washington and a local Oakland High School senior.

In addition to seniors writing about their journey, they also share their gratitude for the people who have sent gifts and letters. There are several smaller “adopt a senior” programs, all created with the intent to show the class of 2020 that they are cared for.

Sanne Godfrey can be reached at sgodfrey@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4203. Follow her on Twitter @sannegodfrey.

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