Up for adoption: Community unites to celebrate 2020 seniors through Facebook page

Prom, graduation, saying goodbyes, and more are things the class of 2020 are missing out on in their final year of high school due to COVID-19. Though most seniors will eventually be able to go to the makeup prom and graduation, some won’t have any of the special traditions to attend to. To help, teachers and parents are celebrating the class online.

The Adopt a High School Senior 2020 Bryan/College Station TX Edition Facebook page was started by Michelle Waner-Yeatts who has lived locally close to 50 years and graduated from A&M Consolidated High School in 1984. Aggie graduate class of 1978, Doug White, and College Station High School counselor, Kelli MacAfee, have also helped moderate the page as administrators. 

The group was initially only open to Bryan/College Station seniors, but they quickly learned that more people wanted to join the group and they could say no. They invited other Brazos Valley area seniors to join the page too.    

“I remember my high school graduation and my high school prom and all those things that these sweet kids are not being able to do,” Wagner-Yeatts said. “I remember how fun they were and how much I looked forward to them because people told me about them from the time I began high school.”

Since prom and graduation are cancelled or postponed, having this page gave the seniors something special and memorable to end their final school year with.

“I think this has a deeper impact and a more long-term impact potentially than what we could ever have imagined,” Wagner-Yeatts said. “Something on this page brings me to tears on a daily basis. The latest was the lighting up the schools for the drive-bys and the teachers waving from the parking lot. They can’t hold their kids and hug them and tell them how proud they are. They have to yell it from a safe distance and that chokes me up.”

Creating the page isn’t only for celebrating the seniors but also to show them that the entire community is proud of them.

“What I hope people take away from this is a pay it forward aspect,” Wagner-Yeatts said. “These kids have a front row seat right now to see what it’s really like to be part of an incredible  community, and I pray as they get older they can bring what they have felt and learned from this group, what a community should really be like and take it forward in their own lives and to their own communities.”

Everyone participating in the Adopt-a-Senior page is thankful for the people they adopt or are adopted by. It’s easy to see the effect the page is having on the community.

“I think it’s hard to deny any kind of an impact at all when you look at the thank you notes and the smiles and the appreciative words of these kids and their families,” Wagner-Yeatts said. “It’s hard to deny that our beautiful amazing community is embracing them and holding them close so as to ease their pain hopefully a little bit.”

Some people don’t know the person who adopted them. However, some teachers chose to adopt students they had, and it means a lot to the senior because they may not have known how much they impacted them and how strong their relationship is. 

“I appreciate all the love and support coming from the community, Bryan ISD, my teachers, family, and friends,” senior Rosa Medrano said. “Senior year has been tough but we can get through anything. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

The seniors didn’t know they would get a facebook page for them, and many were happy and grateful when they found it and were able to put themselves on it and get adopted by someone in their community.

“It means a lot that despite these tough times people in our community are taking the initiative to help the seniors make the best out of the situation,” Rosa said. “It shows compassion and kindness and it’s something we can learn from and share too.”

This time of isolation has also been difficult for many teachers because they miss their students, some have used the Facebook page as an opportunity to connect to some of the seniors one last time and recognize them for the impact they have had during high school.

“Nobody had adopted Rosa Medrano yet,” Watson said. “Even though multiple people can adopt students, I wanted to adopt ones that hadn’t been yet. With Rosa, I’ve known her all four years that she’s been at BHS. We have gone on trips together with VKOT, and I’ve had her in class. She’s just such a caring person that gives so much of herself. We’ve just really gotten to know one another through the years.”

Even when people don’t know the students they are adopting, they always find a reason that made them stand out compared to the rest.

“I think something like this really brings the community together,” Watson said. “I’ve seen people in this group that I’m pretty sure didn’t know the student but adopted them because of their smile or because of what they plan on doing. It shows how much people care about others and that good will exist in the midst of all this craziness.”

Being able to adopt a senior as teachers gives them a way to communicate and continue being close with the student even when they aren’t in school or can see each other anymore.

“I just feel lucky to be a part of these students’ lives even if I can’t see them in person,” Watson said. “They are truly amazing individuals. I hope that all of them are adopted, and with this community I have no doubt that they will.”

Although adopting the seniors is a good thing to do, having to choose one or two seniors out of all of the rest can be challenging because everyone on the page deserves to be adopted and know they are cared for.

“These students have impacted me in so many ways whether I’ve had them for 1 year or have known them all through their high school career or even before,” Watson said. “The hard thing is to not adopt them all. I want them to know that people care; that’s why I’ve also tried to comment on all of my student’s posts because they need to know we are thinking of them.”

Daniel Martinez Alvarado is another senior who did not know the person who adopted him. Community member Danelle Murray Weaver  selected Daniel based on what he put in his bio. Daniel just wants to say thank you to the entire Bryan High/Bryan community for trying to make the situation better for the seniors during this whole pandemic.

“It means a lot to me that the community is coming together to be able to provide some happiness to the Seniors of our local schools,” senior Daniel Martinez Alvarado said. “It is a tough time and people realizing that and coming together to help those affected by it shows the support our community has.”

Weaver adopted one boy from Bryan High and one girl from A&M Consolidated.

“I adopted a senior because my daughter graduated from Bryan high last year and had such a wonderful senior year,” Murray Weaver said. “My heart ached for the class of 2020  knowing they would be missing out on so many wonderful things due to the Coronavirus.”

Though Weaver didn’t know her adoptee, she still found him and chose him because she could later help him in his future college career.

“I adopted Daniel because in his post he mentioned that he was going to Texas A&M next year to study Biomedical Sciences with a desire to become a veterinarian,” Murray Weaver said. “When I saw his post, I got so excited because I am an Associate Director at the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. The thought struck me that beyond giving him a gift, I could be a friendly face and support to him when he arrives at the University in the fall.”

Parent Soledad Garza recognizes that the pandemic has impacted her family financially, but that it has also been a blessing by helping her spend quality time with her family and senior before he graduates. Her son, senior Brandon Garza is thankful for the people in the community who are adopting seniors and recognizing their hard work.

“I think it’s really great that people are finding ways to support the class of 2020 through these times,” senior Brandon Garza said. “It’s nice to know that people support us and care about us.”

Cathy Incardona, a parent of four kids, says that it is affecting them all, but she feels the most upset about her senior.  

“The last few months of senior year are so important with the memories that they make, and I feel awful that he is not really getting to experience all the things the rest of us took for granted, Incardona said. “I love that the community is reaching out to help brighten their outlook.”

As of May 16 the site had 5319 members and 815 adopted seniors.