When the seniors of the Class of 2020 started their final year of high school, they had no warning that their education would conclude not with reading, writing and ’rithmatic, but with a different set of three Rs: retreat, rumination and regret.
No doubt, these students deserved to celebrate surrounded by family, friends and classmates instead of beating a retreat to their homes, ruminating on an uncertain future and regretting the loss of graduation’s pomp and circumstance.
But adults in the Chequamegon Bay region are rallying around Ashland, Washburn and Bayfield seniors, adopting them one-by-one via a Facegroup group to give them little pieces of joy in an otherwise bleak environment.
Melissa Martinez, a former Ashland school teacher who had taught many of the seniors when they were younger, created Adopt A High School Senior 2020 – Chequamegon Bay Edition to pair up grads with adults who then pledge to communicate with them and send little care packages costing less than $50.
“Just little things that are meaningful,” Martinez said.
Or maybe even a little bit on the quirky side.
Ashland Elementary School art teacher Joni Chapman was the first to jump in and adopted Daimyon Torres, a senior at Ashland School District charter Lake Superior High School.
“He was the first one up for adoption,” Chapman said. “I was really psyched to take the plunge.”
The 20-year veteran teacher said she has taught all of the kids in the Torres family, except for the one who’s still rising through the grades, and Torres was the kind of student who made an impact on her memory.
“He was one of those kids who worked so hard,” Chapman said.
After adopting Torres, Chapman sent him a treat from Gabriele’s German Cookies — Cheetos-filled chocolates — a riff on “life is like a box of chocolates” in “Forrest Gump” parlance, according to Martinez.
And Chapman has more surprises up her sleeve to ensure that Torres knows he and his classmates are not forgotten. But mum’s the word as for now they will remain just that: surprises, she said.
The Facebook group has grown to include plenty of adult members but more students are needed to put up for adoption. Martinez said her goal is to ensure every senior is paired.
All the students need to do to participate is post their pictures on Facebook and tell a little bit about themselves, such as their activities, interests and post-graduation plans.
Family friends or anyone who resonates with the seniors’ backgrounds and interests usually jump right in and students are adopted within 24 hours.
Martinez encouraged joining the Facebook group, saying the students have gone through so much in a short amount of time because of schools closing and graduation plans stymied due to the pandemic.
“We want to do something for these kids that would give them their happy ending,” she said.
For more information or to join the group, visit facebook.com/groups/531210354424397.