Due to COVID-19, many school events have been either postponed or cancelled, but staff, parents, and the community are trying to make up for these lost experiences for the senior class. This year marked the first year of a new program called the “Adopt a Senior Program.”
During back to school night, a group of parents expressed that they felt bad that all senior events and activities were non-existent. They wanted to come up with a way to let seniors know they haven’t been forgotten and to put a smile on their face. Julie DeRuvo, Jennifer Casper, and Trisha Cook decided on taking on the program where they quickly had a meeting and started putting it out on social media asking for community volunteers. They reached out to Novato Youth Football and some elementary schools to try to get families with younger kids to get involved and adopt a senior.
“Some of the criteria that we posted was that we hoped it would be a $20 minimum gift per month, maximum $30, lasting from February until June, meaning a total of 5 gifts,” senior parent Julie DeRuvo said. “We had approximately 175 seniors that signed up for the program and we matched them with a bunch of community members, some were also posted on Novato in the Know.”
In February, all seniors were asked to take a questionnaire of their “favorite things” such as their favorite candy, musical artist, drink, or restaurant. Based on those responses, seniors were paired up with someone in the community as their “adopted parents.” While community members were searching for their senior to adopt, they had the choice to either choose a specific senior, get matched up with a senior based on the questionnaire, or get a random pick. They were also given an option of how many seniors they wanted to adopt.
“Some community members even offered to take on multiple students,” leadership teacher Neesha Patel said. “The community really cares for the seniors and they know what an important year this is for them. It was great to see how people in Novato came together for the kids.”
This program that parents took on and the community came together and made all of the seniors who participated in the program feel very special.
“I am so appreciative of my Adopt a Senior gift and I thought it was such a cute idea,” senior Lauren Houlahan said. “It was so nice to receive a little “pick me up” consisting of ice cream, a Starbucks gift card, and some of my favorite snacks.”
Seniors were not only appreciative of the gifts they received from members of the community, but they were also so thankful for the opportunity as a whole.
“Being able to get in contact with someone in the community that I haven’t talked to before, granted during COVID times when we are missing a lot of that human interaction and connection, is great,” senior Izagani Aquino said. “I believe this is a perfect stand-in for that so we get to know more people in the community, not just people around my own age, but people older than me.”
Although this program will most likely only be taking place this year, students believe that this program could be the start of a great tradition.
“Having an adopt a senior program with other members of the community could be a really great tradition, as it opens up San Marin,” Aquino said. “San Marin is a community school so having that there is really nice for situating us as a school community in the broader community. This is a great way to create strong connections between older generations and younger generations considering the fact that there is a lack of understanding on certain things and I think that bridges that gap.”
Not only are the seniors enjoying their gifts and meeting new people in the community, but the community members are pleased with the program as well.
“What we have found out is that the parents and families who volunteered are actually enjoying this so much and the joy that they are receiving from putting together these gifts for the seniors is a win-win,” DeRuvo said. “We wanted to really do something to highlight the senior class and help you guys feel good and I think this program did just that.”
Senior Bella DeRuvo holds her mustang pinata. This is one of the few gifts that she has received so far from her adopted parent.