What do you do when graduation can’t be held in the traditional manner? You adapt and find other ways to celebrate.

That’s what Ashley McGrew has done to celebrate the seniors of the Calhoun High School Class of 2020.

McGrew, a parent of a CHS senior, said a longtime friend of hers was participating in an “Adopt a Senior” movement in another city. She reached out to the group and started a similar effort for the CHS seniors on April 13.

“Our seniors were hit pretty hard over the last few weeks. The traditional rites of passage most have been looking forward to for the last four years or more were stolen from them,” said McGrew, whose daughter, Breanna, is a member of the CHS Class of 2020. “With the cancellation of prom and the possibility of not being able to walk across the stage in front of their family and friends to receive their hard-earned diploma, my heart just broke for all of them.”

Knowing how this unfortunate circumstance impacted her daughter, McGrew felt compelled to do something for her and her classmates.

“This was the perfect platform to show them that every situation may not be good, but there is good to be found in every situation,” she said. “I was confident that we would have a substantial showing of support by the community, but I am blown away by how quickly this gained momentum and the collaboration.”

Adopt a Senior is a voluntary program that allows seniors to be put up for “adoption.” All current CHS and Hope High School seniors are eligible. McGrew said she was provided a list of 261 names of CHS 2020 graduation candidates. Friends, family, or community members can pick a senior to adopt. It is simple to become involved in the process.

“We were recently asked if the Hope High School students could be included for “adoption” purposes, and I said ‘absolutely,’” she said. “A senior is a senior, but I don’t have the list of the graduates, nor can I confirm how many there are.”

Hope High School Principal Dwana Finster said there are more than 40 graduation candidates this year, and the number is still growing. McGrew said those interested should become a member of the (Facebook) group called CHS 2020 Senior Adoption. They will need to submit a request to join and create a bio of a senior, add pictures, and post. Community members can pick and choose seniors they wish to adopt. Seniors can be adopted by more than one person or group.

“Adopting a senior is interpreted differently by everyone,” said McGrew. “To some, it is a temporary involvement, and others may feel compelled to maintain a long-term connection with the student. I have seen people giving gift baskets, snacks, T-shirts, gift cards, jewelry, and scrapbooks. It has really depended on the likes and interests of the senior and the budget of the person or family that has adopted them. There is no limit on the amount to spend. It is completely at the adopter’s discretion.”

Custom made vinyl banners, each measuring 2 feet by 3 feet, are being made for each graduating CHS senior.0 The banners will have a picture of the senior along with their name and Class of 2020. The banners will be hung on the fence outside of Sandcrab Stadium.

“We are hoping to get them printed as quickly as possible,” said McGrew. “The cost of the banners was sponsored by individual contributors, such as senior parents, adopters, family members, friends, businesses from the community, and the CHS Class of 2021. It was decided in the beginning that the banners of all 261 graduates must be funded for the project to be a success.”

Calhoun County Independent School District Superintendent Larry Nichols said the district is working on some special events, but nothing has been finalized.