It could be as simple as a note or a favorite candy bar — just a little something to let the members of the Class of 2021 know while this might be a far from ideal senior year, they are still supported and celebrated.
That is the whole idea behind the “Valencia County Class of 2021 ‘ADOPT A SENIOR’” Facebook page. Page organizer Jessica Romero-Aragon said last year, when her son, Luke Aragon, was finishing his senior year at Belen High School amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, she came across an “adopt a senior” page from another state.
“My son, Luke, participated in that one last year and it was a really wonderful thing. He was adopted by three different families and it was real uplifting,” Romero-Aragon said. “They would send cards, little emails, inspirational quotes. A couple of months ago, I thought it would be nice to start one for Valencia County.”
The idea is straight forward: A senior is put up for “adoption” when a family member or friend posts their picture to the page, along with a little information about the senior. Then in the comments, someone will volunteer to “adopt” the student.
“We’re doing this for everybody, all the high schools and home-schooled students, too,” she sad. “Everybody here in Valencia County is real close so we thought this would be more personal.”
Once a senior has been adopted, the adoptee will reach out through private message to the senior directly or their parents with a form asking for more information such as interests, hobbies, favorite candy and even any allergies or dietary restrictions.
Whoever posted the senior is asked to go back and edit their post to reflect the student has been adopted.
“If seniors upload their own pictures, we do contact their parents to make sure it’s OK for them to participate,” Romero-Aragon said. “For security, we ask that addresses and other direct contact information not be posted on the page.
“I adopted four seniors and am putting together some baskets for them. I will deliver them but I asked their parents for permission first.”
Gifts can be delivered by mail as well as by email, text or direct message, she said.
“This isn’t about getting them expensive gifts. It can be a little note or a card, something that will uplift them, bring them joy,” she said. “Right now, all seniors are feeling a little down and out.”
The group is private, so anyone wanting to adopt a senior or put someone up for adoption must request to join. Only group members can see who’s in the group and what they post.
“This is all about uplifting the kids. Any negativity or bashing will be removed,” Romero-Aragon said. “It might take a few days for a student but they will get adopted. So far, everybody that has been posted has been adopted.”
Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.