Burnet County businesses and residents are 'adopting' 2020 graduating high school seniors and presenting them with gifts to ensure they have positive memories despite the current situation. Organizers in Burnet and Marble Falls have created 'Adopt a Senior’ Facebook groups to connect people and businesses with members of the Class of 2020. Courtesy photo
As the final months of the school year were taken away from Highland Lakes high school seniors, Britney Lyon and Krissy Fry sprang into action.
The two started an “adopt a senior” project to ensure kids graduating from Marble Falls schools would have something to remember from the spring other than being stuck at home following Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order closing Texas campuses through the remainder of the academic year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The project has spread across Burnet County as Burnet High School parents started a similar endeavor.
When Lyon, a Marble Falls parent, heard the governor’s April 17 order to close campuses for the rest of the school year because of the threat of COVID-19, she jumped on her social media and asked others to “adopt” a high school senior.
She tagged Fry: “I know you’re in.”
“It broke our hearts,” said Fry, whose children graduated from Marble Falls High School. “We created this page where the community can be involved. We want to shower (graduating seniors) with love, gifts, and cards.”
Even though Lyon and Fry don’t have teens graduating this year, they wanted to help.
The duo created the Adopt a 2020 Marble Falls Senior Facebook group the night of April 17 and landed 354 members by the next morning, Fry said. As of April 21, the group had more than 1,000 members and people have “adopted” 178 seniors attending Marble Falls and Falls Career high schools, Faith Academy of Marble Falls, Harmony School of Creative Arts, and Smoking for Jesus Ministry School. Adoptive parents or businesses simply purchase gifts for the students if the feel moved to do so.
In Burnet, Erica Crist and Carley Frost took notice of the Marble Falls project and followed suit with the Adopt a 2020 Burnet Senior group on Facebook. Like Fry and Lyon, the two Burnet women wanted to make sure Burnet High School seniors had positive memories from their final school year.
Crist is the mother of Burnet senior Kali Crist. Frost is the mother of seniors Cathlyn and Alison Frost.
“Starting in March, they have all the milestones: awards, banquets,” Carley Frost said. “They have days that are special to seniors. Because of the virus, nothing has happened. This is kind of big.”
“They don’t get to experience the excitement of seeing their friends at school,” Erica Crist added. “It’s a different way to help them process it. This is very emotional for me.”
Frost, a health care provider, believes Abbott’s decision was the right one but feels for the students graduating this year.
“It’s been really hard,” Frost said. “My oldest one has really struggled. She has a little bit of anxiety. She’s introverted and has stayed home. She’s missed out with her friends at school and with teachers. Alison was rocking it. All the sudden, it was, ‘I’ll never walk in the band hall again? I’ll never see my teachers again?’”
Kali Crist was a drum major for two years for Burnet High School’s Esprit De Corps and in band throughout her academic life. As mother Erica spoke, her voice choked with emotion as she reflected on what Kali wasn’t able to do this year.
The Esprit De Corps marches in the annual Bluebonnet Festival parade. During the performance, band seniors step out of the line, leaving a gap, to show they are graduating. The 2020 festival was canceled this year.
Seniors across Burnet County are missing out on memory-making events, including proms, banquets, competitions, and performances. Commencement ceremonies also might be affected.
People interested in adopting a member of the Class of 2020 should visit either of the Facebook group pages above. Those wanting to adopt a Burnet senior also can email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Parents of seniors approve the adoption and might provide more information on what gifts would be appreciated.
“It’s all parent-driven,” Erica Crist said. “If a parent is uncomfortable, they back out.”
Some participating businesses and residents have purchased gift cards for restaurants in the college town where the graduate is heading; others have given seniors baskets filled with their favorite things.
“We want these kids to be recognized for their dedication and hard work,” Fry said.