Adopt a Coppell High School Senior 2020 bringing seniors recognition, celebration


Photo courtesy Justin Dodd

Coppell High School senior Justin Dodd receives his first gifts from the Adopt a Coppell High School Senior 2020 program. The program seeks to celebrate seniors living in Coppell by nominating students and sending them personalized gifts from adopters.

Avani Kashyap, Staff Writer

The Coppell High School class of 2020 has missed out on numerous senior events due to COVID-19. From prom and graduation to various banquets, celebrations to commemorate their high school years are now canceled or done virtually.

However, the atypical situation has fostered atypical solutions and among virtual prom and graduation is a new, more personalized program: Adopt a High School Senior.

The original Facebook group, created by Mary Storey in Ruidoso, N.M., has created a movement that has spread to thousands across the nation, and many cities, including Coppell, are creating their own local groups. 

High school seniors are nominated for adoption by parents, friends or others and residents are encouraged to adopt seniors and send them gifts to celebrate them.

The Adopt a Coppell High School Senior 2020 group was created by resident Karyn Brownlee and has now grown to include more than 400 members and 80 adopted seniors. Brownlee was inspired by other local groups and believes the program is a great way to bless graduating seniors.

“I used to be an elementary principal at Richard J. Lee Elementary from 1998-2007, my daughter Aimee Cardoso graduated from Coppell High School in 2009 and we’re still season ticket holders of the CHS football games so we are just long time Coppell members,” Brownlee said. “This is a time where everybody is working on what we can do to make life better for somebody else. We are feeling helpless because there are so many needs for food, shelter and jobs, but there are also emotional needs that need to be met as well.”

The Coppell group is open to all seniors living in Coppell such as those who go to private or charter schools, not just those who attend Coppell High School or New Tech High @ Coppell, and is growing by the day. More than 100 members have joined the group in the past week and nominated students are getting adopted within a day. To group moderator Juliette Hills, the program is an innovative way to recognize the accomplishments of individual seniors.

“I have a senior [The Sidekick staff writer/photographer Sydney Rowe] so my heart just tugs that she won’t get to experience those things at least at the high school level,” Hills said. “I want to make the kids smile and recognize that somebody feels for them. There’s some degree of sadness or missing out so it’s really to help them understand that they’re thought of.”

While the group may not make up for the loss of prom and graduation, the recognition is clearly appreciated by those like CHS senior Justin Dodd. 

“I heard of kids from other schools who had been adopted and I was like ‘I wish Coppell would do that’ so it was really nice to see it,” Dodd said. “I like it because people are making the best of a bad situation and it definitely shows that people still care and aren’t forgetting about us.” 

Adopters are encouraged to contact the nominators and learn about their student’s favorite things to give personalized gifts. Many adopters choose to establish personal relationships with their seniors while others remain anonymous.

Throughout the weeks, the program has been increasingly embraced by the community and residents are as excited to adopt as they are to nominate.

“I’ve seen former educators and current educators who want to adopt somebody who went to their middle school or elementary school,” Hills said. “It’s not only the parents putting [seniors] up, it’s now people saying they want to adopt somebody and I like that turn of events.”

From college merchandise and gift cards to cookie decorating kits, residents are bringing their adopted seniors a variety of gifts to celebrate the end of their high school career.

“What’s been most fun is seeing the pictures that are posted after people are getting surprised,” Brownlee said. “It’s been really fun to see the smiles on the faces of the seniors.”