Local “Sponsor a Senior” program aims to celebrate Class of 2020

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Savanna Perry, Reporter

The Class of 2020 has unfortunately experienced a roller coaster of emotions and events that were unexpected. Their senior trip, prom, graduation and other senior events were taken out of their hands in an instant. However, some local parents came up with an idea to spread some cheer and encouragement.

One of these parents was Maria Paine of Williamstown, who saw the success of the “Sponsoring a Senior” in her town and decided to spread the word. She reached out to Beth Burkett-Rice, mother of Hammonton senior Areana Burkett, and invited her to her local town’s “Adopt a Senior” page.

“Beth kept posting that she really wanted Hammonton to do the same for their Seniors. She had posted on the Parent-Teacher FB page, but no response,” said Paine. “I finally told her that it has to be initiated by parents and if you want it done, I will help.”

On Thursday, May 14th at 7:30am, the two created “Hammonton High School Sponsor a Senior 2020” Facebook page.

They invited parents, guardians, friends and relatives to post a couple of photos of their student along with a bio explaining their plans for the future. Once a senior has been “adopted” by another parent or fellow student, the student would send a list of their favorite items.

After a few shares, the page quickly grew to over 600 members, more than they imagined. Burkett-Rice and Paine had a goal of 50 members by the end of the first day. By the first night, they approved over 100 members. In less than one week, the page has reached over 160 adopted seniors and almost 650 members. The two administrators have also spent the last week approving members, monitoring posts, and answering questions to make sure the page runs as smoothly as possible.

Both are pleased with the impact on the seniors, as indicated by the amount of positive feedback and posts in return.

“I would like to thank the Hammonton community and the surrounding communities for making this so successful. Maria and I only created the page, these awesome communities and parents made it successful,” Burkett-Rice said.

The Class of 2020 has experienced a senior year like no other. Although the students could not physically encounter the traditional events of their senior year, this drastic turn of events has proven the strength of the community.

“Nothing will replace the events that the Class of 2020 has missed,” said Paine. “[B]ut it doesn’t mean that they can’t have different experiences. 20 years from now, when they look back on this time, I hope they remember how communities came together to celebrate their achievements. It’s not the traditional celebration, but in some ways, it’s even better.”

What message does Burkett-Rice have for the Class of 2020?

“Dear Class of 2020, you are a resilient, unique group of students. Nothing can replace the moments that you missed this year, this year was historical. Take this year’s experiences and memories with you in your future. Also, please remember how this community has come together to help celebrate your achievements and take that love with you into the future. You have been through a lot this year and I know all of you are going to take this and do great things!”

Interested participants can join the group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/268289144298658 .