For the class of 2020, senior year was not what they were expecting. With so many important rites of passage canceled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, two local women rallied to show the seniors that they were not alone.
Mother and daughter duo Georgette and Lauren Vetock wanted to make sure that the class of 2020 was supported during this difficult time. In April, the two were inspired to start the “Anne Arundel County Adopt a Senior Class of 2020” group on Facebook to celebrate local seniors.
“My mother came to me in early April with the idea to start a group supporting seniors who are not getting the opportunity to be celebrated for their accomplishments,” said Lauren, who teaches at Marley Elementary School in Glen Burnie. “She asked me to create a group on Facebook because she felt social media would be the best way to reach everyone.”
After a senior has been put up for “adoption,” the members of the group choose to adopt them, and deliver them a gift basket, card, snacks, or anything to make them feel supported. The seniors have received everything from college gear to masks.
Though these deliveries cannot make up for the prom or traditional graduation ceremony, Lauren and Georgette hope that these little gifts bring the seniors joy.
“As a former senior, I remember the excitement surrounding those events,” said Lauren. “A culmination of all my hard work being celebrated in front of my friends, parents and loved ones. As residents of Anne Arundel County, we wanted to create additional opportunities for the seniors to be celebrated for their amazing accomplishments.”
The group now has over 6,000 members, and over 1,000 seniors have been adopted.
“We’re grateful we are able to reach so many people in our community,” said Georgette, who owns The Salon at Benfield in Severna Park. “We are also inspired by their kindness and the generosity of everyone.”
Among those adopted is Paris Sistilli, the Broadneck High School senior class president.
“It feels really nice and it just emphasizes that even though [the coronavirus] has taken a lot of things from people, it has still instilled a sense of empathy and wanting to make people smile,” said Sistilli.
Sistilli was adopted by a teacher at Tyler Heights Elementary, where she volunteers to teach chess, and a stranger.
“There's not much new going on at home,” said Sistilli. “I think everyone relates to that. It was just nice to have something different to shake up the routine. It was also really heartwarming that someone out there is thinking about the class of 2020.”
Sistilli said that spring was typically a time to celebrate the seniors. Although she missed out on traditional celebrations, she is glad that people like Lauren and Georgette are making seniors feel special.
“Our class didn't get a prom or a traditional graduation,” said Sistilli. “It's important for us to feel recognized for our accomplishments. We all worked really hard for four years. Even though we didn't get the traditional recognition, it's cool to know we’ll be remembered in other ways.”
Lauren and Georgette hope the adopted seniors know that the community is proud of their accomplishments and wishes them the best in their future.
“I feel giving back to the community has great benefits,” said Georgette. “By showing love and support to our seniors, we hope one day they, in turn, they will give back to their community.”