With Franklin County High School set to announce Friday a modified graduation ceremony, one Apalachicola parent has already set in motion a Facebook page dedicated to the senior class that has energized parents, friends and students alike.
The page "FCHS Class of 2020 - Adopt A Senior," a public group with more than 350 members and counting, is in the mold of several such "adoption" groups sweeping the country, as communities devise ways of honoring their upcoming graduates.
Terress Martina said after being invited to take part in groups by nieces and nephews in neighboring communities and states, she took a look at what was out there and decided to create one for Franklin County.
The idea is to nominate a graduating senior, providing a picture and glimpse of who they are, and what their plans are, and then have community members go about "adopting" them.
Perhaps the nomination will list their favorite colors or interests, their college and career plans, and people can choose to adopt them.
"’Oh, I like this senior,’ they may say, we have a lot of common," said Martina. "It’s a positive way to adopt that child."
The adoptive "parent" (each student can have up to three) can then reach out how they see fit, sharing anything from candy to gifts, from a laundry basket to college dorm supplies, anything they see as a way to share the love, so to speak.
"Ultimately, the purpose is to come together as a community and support our seniors," said Martina. "Anyone can nominate another person."
She said several teachers have reached out to her, in support of the idea, ensuring that each member of the Class of 2020 receives a nomination to make them eligible for this accolade.
"I do not want any child left out," Martina said. "I believe we have about 70 seniors and my sole goal is to ensure every one of them at least receives something.
"It’s open to the public," she said. "If anyone knows a senior we highly encourage them to do so."
While Martina has no children in the graduating class, two friends of hers do, Katie Juno and Amy Hersey, and they have become avid administrators of the group online.
"They’re been behind me all the way," she said.
Martina said increasingly, people are joining the online group even though they have no direct connection with the members of the class, just a desire to help knit the community tighter during this challenging time of the coronavirus shutdown.
The online group can arrange for pick-up and delivery of any gift items to the seniors, many of whom have vehicles that can help in the giving and receiving.
"We don’t mind taking a couple minutes and dropping it off on their doorstep," said Martina. "We have a lot of working hands."
The bottom line for her is that it’s the thought the counts.
"It’s more heartfelt if you are choosing to adopt, you’re invested in them. You took the time to choose that child," she said. "This is a milestone in their life, and whether they’re valedictorian or barely skimmed by, they have earned that right,
"If it makes them smile and makes them feel somebody thought about them, my mission is complete," Martina said.
As for how commencement will work, the committee headed by Leigh Smith is set to make its formal plans known by Friday.
"We understand you are anxious about graduation and we are working to finalize details," the district wrote in a Facebook post Tuesday. "We will announce official plans for a modified graduation by Friday, May 1, to be in accordance with CDC guidelines."
The post notes that graduation will not be postponed to June or July, "and will be in keeping with the current school calendar.
"A more detailed letter with specific instructions for our seniors and their families will go out via email and direct mail." It reads. "Thank you for your continued patience, support, and understanding. We are in this together."