When Michelle Kish’s sister, Melissa Walker, called to let her know her nephew had been adopted, the news left her a little confused.

But further explanation revealed that her nephew, David Edwards, a senior at Westmont Hilltop High School, wouldn’t be leaving the family but was “adopted” on the Cambria County Pa. Adopt a Senior Class of 2020 Facebook page.

“My sister said, ‘You need to hop on and take a look,’ ” Kish said.

Which she did, and was impressed by what she saw.

The Facebook page was created by Donna Hill, who saw similar pages for other areas and knew one was “needed” here.

Hill knows firsthand the disappointment of students missing out on senior moments, she said, because her daughter, Corrine, is a senior at Forest Hills High School.

“She’s obviously upset over it,” Hill said.

Having that experience inspired her to start this endeavor, which has the goal of showering “our 2020 graduating seniors with some extra love,” according to the page.

‘Rooting for them’

Family or friends of graduates post small biographies with photos of the students, describing some of their interests and hobbies and writing “not adopted” at the beginning.

Those posting are cautioned to screen the person offering to adopt and to be safe. 

There’s one post allowed per graduate and once a student is spoken for, “adopted” is put in place of “not adopted” at the beginning of the biography.

Visitors contact the person who posted the biography either by comment or private message to let them know they would like to adopt the senior.

They then pledge to “send a letter, card, gift, gift card, snack, anything to let them know we’re all rooting for them” and are encouraged to adopt as many as they want.

“The more love, the merrier,” the page states.

Hill started this project in April and by the beginning of May there were more than 400 students adopted and now there are even more.

“It took off a lot more than I thought it would,” Hill said. “It’s a lot bigger than I thought.”

‘Heartwarming’ effort

Keeping track of the people posting and students that were adopted is no easy task, especially because the project is still growing. But that’s not a bad thing, Hill said.

“I’m just so thrilled so many people are doing this and supporting these seniors,” Hill said.

After exploring the posts, Kish contacted her cousin Lydia Newman, a senior at Blacklick Valley High School, to find out if she knew about the page.

Lydia said she’d seen it a few times and had friends who had been adopted – but she wasn’t going to post anything herself.

Kish volunteered to do it for her and Lydia initially declined.

“I said, ‘Forget about it because I’m putting you on anyway,’ ” Kish said.

Within an hour Lydia had been adopted by two people.

She hasn’t received her gifts yet, but said she’s looking forward to seeing what arrives.

“It’s really heartwarming,” Lydia said. “It symbolizes how much people want to support each other.”

Feeling ‘special’

Seeing that joy her cousin experienced made Kish want to share some of her own.

“I wanted to make somebody else feel just as special,” Kish said.

However, locating a senior who hadn’t been adopted yet was more difficult than she thought it would be.

Kish said she spent a good deal of time scrolling through the page trying to find a student, then resolved to instead adopt someone who had been adopted already and then decided to choose another student as well.

With tears in her eyes, Kish said she was so proud of the seniors, such as her cousin and nephew, and honoring them this way was the least anyone could do for the students.

“I’m glad to see so many people participating,” Kish said.

Lisa Sokira wanted to spread that same special feeling when she decided to adopt two students.

“I like to give – I like to do things for people,” Sokira said.

She provided the two students she adopted with gift cards and snacks, joking that she spoiled the pair a bit.

‘Really great people’

Sokira initially saw other people posting on the Facebook page and decided to check it out.

Seeing the support others were providing to students made her want to share that with her son, Kyle, who is a senior at Cambria County Christian School.

There was a little bit of nervousness once the post was up, Sokira said, because the thought of “What if no one adopts him?” had run through her mind.

But the concern was unfounded.

Within two hours, Kyle was adopted – not by one person, but two.

“Getting adopted in general, that quick, was a surprise,” Kyle said.

He’s already received his care packages of gift cards, snacks, a blanket, pillow and laundry basket for college.

Kyle expressed thanks for what he got and said he thinks it’s cool to see so many people willing to give in the area.

“It made me realize there are some really great people out there,” Kyle said.

Joshua Byers is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @Journo_Josh.

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