The roughly 285 seniors set to graduate from the high school in June are going through a much different final-year experience in the era of COVID-19 than other previous class.
To make sure the students know they are appreciated, Amherst County High School recently launched an adopt-a-senior campaign to give them support heading into the final months of the 2020-21 school year.
Robin Holmes, the ACHS librarian who was instrumental in the initiative, said seniors have missed out on sports, activities and experiences for just more than a year now, going back to their junior years, even though school reopened with a hybrid model of in-person and remote learning.
“We just wanted to do something to remind them we all still think about them and care about them,” Holmes said.
She recently sent a flier out to all Amherst County Public Schools employees asking that they consider adopting a senior and also has extended the invitation to the Amherst County community, she said.
Students fill out a form with information about their favorite colors and foods, where they like gift cards from and other interests, and those who adopt them can send on items through the school or to their home, Holmes said.
“Just a little token to let them know we support them and they’re not alone as they end their high school career,” Holmes said.
She said she recently woke up in the middle of the night thinking about something special that can be done for seniors, a subject dear to her heart, and the idea came to her. Principal Derrick Brown was highly supportive, she said.
Anyone interested in participating in the adopt-a-senior initiative can email Holmes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In a March 26 interview Holmes said just more than 100 seniors have been adopted and she is hopeful for more. She also refers to the campaign as “love a Lancer” and said businesses, individuals and groups taking part can provide a kind gesture to students.
“They’re missing out on a lot and I feel really bad for them,” Holmes said of the senior experience this year.
Amherst County School Board member Chris Terry said a recent meeting he had inquired about taking part in the project.
ACPS Superintendent Rob Arnold said the high school is looking for ways to get the class of 2021 down the stretch of what he has described as an unprecedented year for public education.
“Our seniors obviously missed a lot,” Arnold said during the March 11 board meeting.
Reagan Bui, an ACHS student who serves as a student representative to the school board, said division employees and those who participate can send seniors encouragement such as notes, letters and treats to uplift their spirits.
“We’ve gotten a lot of adults who have responded and said ‘this is a wonderful idea. Thanks for doing this,’” Holmes said.
Some participants have adopted more than one senior, which is acceptable, she added.
“We need to rally our seniors and any recognition they can get, I’m willing to do whatever it takes,” Holmes said.