UTAH – Hundreds of high school seniors across the state are being spoiled by strangers as ‘Adopt a Utah Senior’ social media group gains popularity.
Like many high schools across the country, at Stansbury high in Tooele, Utah, the park benches sit open, sidewalks are empty and the doors are locked.
Written across large windows in paint you’ll read, ‘We love our seniors,’ a message many of there seniors will probably never see.
“It feels kind of surreal, I haven’t been back here in like six weeks,” said Bailey Cook, a graduating senior at Stansbury High.
“It’s kind of a little bit heartbreaking not getting to walk the halls again,” Bailey continued. “If I would have known that was my last day I definitely would have made it a little bit more than I could have.”
For Bailey, standing in her high school’s parking lot is upsetting.
“We wanted to have our normal senior year and we just didn’t get that,” Bailey said.
Bailey knows she’s missed out on a lot, competitions, prom, end of year events, time with her friends and a graduation ceremony – to name a few.
“It’s so hard,” she said.
But, she found a silver lining in a purple bag.
“I was like, ‘What is this graduation present?’” she said as she held up the shiny gift bag.
Inside she found her favorite soda, her favorite snack and her favorite candy. It came topped with a note from a stranger.
“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind,” Bailey said as she read the card aloud.
“I think the hardest thing for me is saying goodbye to the end of this chapter… I’m moving on and it doesn’t feel like I got a lot of closure,” Bailey continued. “So, just reading this is like okay, I can do this and I can do hard things and we can get through this together.”
Little did Bailey know, her gift was part of a much bigger project, “Adopt a Senior.”
“There’s this wonderful group on Facebook, where strangers, out of the goodness of their heart, adopt one of you seniors for the year,” a woman can be heard saying as she filmed her daughter opening her gift.
The groups have spread nationwide. In a group just for the beehive state, 300 Utah high schoolers have already been adopted.
“Parents get to go on, they post about their senior, post a picture,” said Monica Kennedy, the founder of the Adopt a Senior Utah group. “Then other people get to go on and say they want to adopt them.”
The person then sends their senior something to make them feel loved whether that be a card, snacks, candy, small gifts or anything in-between.
“There’s just an outpouring of love, some kids get adopted four or five times,” Kennedy said. “I hope people realize that just the smallest effort is going to help brighten a day.”
The sentiment may be small, but to some class of 2020 graduates, they mean the world.
“Just to know people are supporting us, to know that people are understanding of how hard this is… it really does help us feel special when right now it doesn’t feel so special,” said Bailey.
The Adopt a Utah Senior page is open to anyone in the state who wants to add their senior to the list or adopt one.