Seniors ‘adopted’ by community members


photo or infographic by courtesy photo

With her present from a family friend, senior Cali Barlow accepts her gift of senior swag. Barlow was adopted by several families after her mom posted her information on the Facebook page Willis High School Adopt/Swap a Senior 2020. “The worst part is realizing that this chapter of my life is truly over,” Barlow said. “Being ‘adopted’ made me realize that you never really lose the people who mean the most to you. They’re in your heart forever.”

by Heather Jackson, VOW photography manager

The prom dresses are still in the closets. The cap and gowns may never be worn. No powder puff games. No end of year banquets. No senior picnic or breakfast. Missing these events is not the end of the world, but the senior class is devastated by the lost of these traditions. 

 A new effort to bring joy and love to the seniors of the class of 2020 has been put into action.

Wildkat parent and alum Melanie Dodson created an Adopt a Senior page on Facebook to allow teachers and other members of the page to “adopt” a senior to help show that they are loved during this time. In the first four days, the page had 757 members, and there are currently over 120 adopted seniors.

“I was motivated to start the page the day the governor announced that we would not be going back to school this year,” Dodson said. “My daughter and all the seniors I knew were so sad that their last hope of walking the halls at WHS would not be a reality. I was desperately looking for a way to bring some encouragement to these seniors.” 

Students’ name and senior pictures are put on a post with a description and their accomplishments when they participate in this honorary adoption. Those who adopt seniors are able to show their love and support through encouraging notes and gifts to keep their spirits up during this time. 

“Mrs. Horne adopted me, and at first I didn’t know I was put on the page, but I’m glad I was because Mrs. Horne is one of my favorite teachers, and it was really amazing to see her and just know she cares about every senior and how she really feels for us,” senior Leann Hoffart said. “It truly just made this whole experience more meaningful, and she also made my day.”

Senior Ali McNew plans to attend Baylor University and was adopted by a Baylor graduate she had never met before. 

“I think that is a super cool thing because it shows that I am supported by people I don’t even know,” McNew said. “It has helped with the disappointment of losing my senior year to know that so many people are rooting for me to succeed.”

Former Cannan Elementary School teacher Kahla Larson reached out to seniors she had taught years before when they were in first and third grade to show her support and help make this time better for 2020 graduates.  

“They are great kids and it makes me sad to know they are missing out on so many last milestones that they’ve been looking forward to,” Larson said. “It’s always amazing to see how much they have grown up in the last decade. I hope to be able to bring one last smile to their face and happy memory to their heart.”