Adopt a Senior begins for Class of 2021.

February 4, 2021

Adopt a Senior begins for Class of 2021.

By Kate Krieger, MCP Staff Writer

SCOTTVILLE – No one would have expected high school seniors across the country would not have graduated in the traditional way last school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This school year doesn’t look much different. Mason County Central Middle School teacher Chandra Tacktor saw something that made her want to make these seniors feel special, even though they wouldn’t be able to celebrate graduating high school as the classes who came before them. Tacktor saw a school district on Facebook that was calling on community members to adopt seniors and send them gifts and well wishes as they got ready to exit high school.

“I had seen a similar page set up for a district that I had taught in when I lived in Texas,” she said. “As a teacher and a community member, I had thought it was just what our community needed during the trying times that were taking place when the Covid-19 pandemic had started. Our students had to sacrifice the end of their senior year and our community needed a positive light during the unprecedented times. I had reached out to a few parents of prior students as well as a couple of friends and everyone agreed, it was worth a try. From there, I created the Facebook page, invited a few people and the movement took off faster than I had imagined it would.”

Tacktor said the page went from a handful of followers to hundreds of followers in only a few days.

“The feedback has been tremendously positive,” she said. “Students and parents have been thankful for the opportunity, but even more so the community has appreciated being able to touch the lives of these young adults, learn their stories, and celebrate their successes. Following graduation last year, many suggested continuing the movement for the class of 2021, as so many enjoyed taking part.”

Not knowing what would happen with the pandemic, Tacktor saw that this school year was turning into somewhat of a repeat from last year and she continued the program. This year, she started a lot earlier in the school year to make sure all seniors got adopted. She said Mason County residents have been so gracious with the program and want to make sure all students are involved.

“I can’t tell you how many private messages I get of people saying please let me know if you see a senior that does not get adopted so nobody is left unadopted,” she said. “On this same note, every time I come across one who is not adopted, by the time I can send a message, the student has usually been adopted. The community is truly amazing. I am so proud to call Mason County my home.”

Tacktor said she has been so pleased with everyone who has become involved, but she also wants this to celebrate all the seniors themselves and everything they have done during their 13 years in school.

“To be honest, my favorite part has been reading the accomplishments of these young men and women as well as their future plans,” she said. “Every story brings a smile to my face, but I especially enjoy reading about those students that have passed through my middle school math classroom. It makes me proud of the seniors, but it also makes me proud of our local schools as we are guiding and building this amazing group of young adults.”

Anyone can participate by going to the Adopt a Senior 2021 Mason County (MI) Facebook page. Parents, guardians or students are encouraged to post a picture of their graduating senior, along with a short biography on them.

“For families that would like to have their seniors celebrated, either the parent or the student themself can post a picture and a short biography on the Adopt a Senior Mason County 2021 Facebook page,” she said. “From there, community members will the comment if they would like to adopt. Then, the sponsor and the parent can connect to make arrangements. I encourage the community to join even if they are not interested in adopting just to read the stories or leave positive words of encouragement for this amazing group of kids.”

Sponsors have been very generous with providing their chosen senior with a wide variety of gifts and cards.

“The gifts have really ranged,” Tacktor said. “Some have had sentimental meaning while others have hit the interests of the students. One student was gifted a fishing charter which was very generous. Most of the gifts include items that surround the student’s interest or are helpful for their future adventures, but almost all include their favorite snacks.”

As side of sponsors, Tacktor stated that other community members have reached out to her interested to support the program as well.

“Along with the obvious positives that match the purpose of the page, our community has used the page to support in even more ways,” she said. “Several locals have offered their services through the page such as Sue Brown who reached out last year to families through the Adopt a Senior page to offer free cap and gown photo sessions.”

Even if schools end up returning to what was the norm before Covid-19 hit, Tacktor said she is pretty confident that the Adopt a Senior program will continue.

“With the overwhelmingly positive feedback, and the push for Adopt a Senior to continue this year, it really feels that it has become a tradition that will stick,” she said. “Sure, the class of 2020 was what inspired the movement, but the community has spoken and have encouraged this to continue. I think it is more than trying to make up for what is lost in the current school years, but also a way to unit the community in a positive way.”
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