SPARTA, NJ – Looking to boost the spirits of the seniors missing out on the last months and weeks of their high school career, a Sparta mother has created a Facebook page where people can “Adopt a Sussex County Senior.”

“I want to give our local seniors the opportunity to feel the love and shine, especially since they may not have their prom, graduation ceremonies or other parties and celebrations,” Janie Carson said. Parents can post information about their senior and members of the Facebook group can "pledge to send a letter, a card, flowers, gift card, or anything to let them know we’re all rooting for them," Carson instructed on the Facebook page. 

Apparently optimistic that school will reopen, the high school administrators sent out a notice this week advising seniors they were trying to secure a date for the prom in June and were working on plans for virtual award ceremonies and a virtual graduation.  The governor has said they will review the closure in May.

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The notice addresses the question of moving graduation to late summer but the administrators said, “We cannot be sure that this will be an option because many students and athletes may be leaving for college and we have no ability to ensure exactly when such an assembly will be authorized.  As such, we cannot forego a virtual ceremony and charge ahead with that plan.”

Carson’s children are not even in high school.  In the fall her three children will be in Kindergarten, third and eighth grades.  She was inspired by a similar initiative in her home town Altoona, Pennsylvania.

When she adopted a senior from Altoona, the gesture garnered a lot of attention including interviews on the local 11 p.m. news.  That in turn propelled the program in Blair County, Pennsylvania.

Carson shared the first participant on the “Adopt a Sussex County Senior” Facebook page. Parents can post information about their senior and Facebook members can "pledge to send a letter, a card, flowers, gift card, or anything to let them know we’re all rooting for them," Carson instructed on the Facebook page. 

“I guess I will get the ball rolling. This is my son Brandon Rabbitt. He is a senior at Sparta High School. He is an extremely shy young man. He will be attending NJIT in the fall for Computer Science. He loves playing the guitar and keyboard. He loves technology and is excited about coding and computer programming. This is a scary and uncertain time for him, just like for most seniors. I told him about this site and he thought it was a very nice" gesture” Posted by Kelly Dawson Rabbitt of Sparta.

Having watched and waited for their turn to participate in activities such as Water Wars, Prom- and the promposals that precede, Academic Awards, scholarship dinner, Top 10 Dinner, Monogram dinner, along with just getting to be with their friends and teammates, seniors are getting by.

Stephanie Villar said, "The worst part about missing much of our senior year has been not seeing my friends everyday. Now is the time when we should all be celebrating college acceptances, playing spring sports, getting ready for prom and graduation and all the excitement around that. Being together before we all go our separate ways. It's been upsetting knowing we won't get these moments back."

"I never realized how much I would miss walking in the halls and just seeing everybody from our school," Kathleen Whilesmith said. "I hope that we get to all go back soon so our senior year does not end like this."

The notice from the school addresses the question of moving graduation to late summer but the administrators said, “We cannot be sure that this will be an option because many students and athletes may be leaving for college and we have no ability to ensure exactly when such an assembly will be authorized.  As such, we cannot forego a virtual ceremony and charge ahead with that plan.”

“It’s honestly been really tough missing this part of my senior year because it’s what everyone looks forward to,” Audrey Krajicek said.  “From March to June I had my lacrosse season, two national honor society ceremonies, the monogram dinner, prom and graduation.  It’s no doubt the best part of high school that is so bittersweet for seniors.  I wish I was able to spend the last months with my teachers and friends but I realize the importance of what we’re doing.  We have to sacrifice a lot.  I think it makes us a remarkable senior class.” 

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