Originally published in La Plaza Press
By MIA ARANDA
No Homecoming or Prom. No school rallies. No fall Friday night football games. No concerts, plays, or sporting events. No painting student parking spots. No college acceptance celebration days. No paper toss. No end-of-the-year trip to an amusement park. It may be possible that seniors not experience an in-person graduation this year.
Class of 2021 high school seniors are facing the inevitable loss of their last year of high school. For them, this year is supposed to be remembered as a once-in-a-lifetime experience to cherish moments with friends and classmates before they all take on different paths following graduation. However, given the different circumstances imposed by the pandemic, seniors are forced to trudge through the year via distance learning without the in-person connections formed or developed with friends and teachers.
Redlands High School senior Linda Estrada said, “It impacts mental health because it is stressful to try to teach yourself a lesson you didn’t comprehend in class and when it comes up to that quiz or test you feel uneasy because you don’t know if you taught yourself the correct way to do it.”
To incite positivity for these high school seniors, Marci Atkins, mother of a senior at Redlands High School, started a Facebook group titled Adopt a Redlands Senior. This event is open to any seniors enrolled in RHS, Redlands East Valley, Citrus Valley, Orangewood, the Grove, and Redlands eAcademy. Parents of the class of 2021 seniors are encouraged to post about their seniors where they tell the group about them along with a photo. Anyone else is welcome to read their post and comment if they would like to “adopt” them. By doing so, they commit to compiling a goodie basket or gift bag to deliver to their adopted senior’s house.
With more than 200 people in the group, seniors have received overwhelming support through the delivery of gifts from people they didn’t even know.
“I was surprised and very thankful,” said CV senior Destiny Shaughnessy, who received a blanket, car freshener, candle, bracelet and some candy in her gift bag.
“I think this helps seniors because they have worked hard and struggled to get to graduation,” said CV senior Azul Amaro. “Every senior/student has obstacles not just in school but in life as well and I think that with a small/big gift it can make a senior’s day, week, or month better.”
Amaro received a gift basket with a large assortment of items: a sketchbook, some sketching pencils, some fuzzy blue socks, a mermaid reef candle, a 2021 magnetic calendar, a blue glittery scrunchie, some candy and a bath bomb.
Estrada said, “It gave me a boost of confidence knowing people see what we are going through as seniors.”
Redlands High School senior Laura Estrada with a gift basket on Nov. 14. Estrada received a makeup palette, gift cards to Starbucks and Taco Bell, some scrunchies, face masks, and nail polishes from Sergio Vazquez, parent of a Citrus Valley high school senior. (Courtesy of Laura Estrada)
Anyone wanting to adopt a senior can find all the information through Marci Atkin’s FaceBook group “Adopt a Redlands Senior.” Even small gestures, such as flowers, balloons, or a card, truly brighten up seniors’ days. All people are encouraged to participate and appreciated greatly for making this year’s seniors feel special given these unique circumstances.