New ‘adopt a high school senior’ helping teens thru school losses

Area high school seniors are being “adopted” through a social media campaign designed to ease some of their pain from losing out on the once-in-a-lifetime end of school experiences.

One of the most popular Facebook groups " Adopt A Senior HHS Edition " was created by some mothers of Hamilton school students to counter the emotional setbacks brought on by the coronavirus-driven shutdown of Hamilton High School and all school events.

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The novel outreach program allows the online audience to choose a participating high school and cheer them up with cards, letters, online messages and even gifts.

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Kason Benton, like hundreds of his Hamilton High School classmates, lost his final months of school along with prom, senior day events. Even his graduation ceremony was postponed.

Toss in state-ordered social distancing and long stints at home, and the last part of Benton’s K-12 school career was increasingly disappointing.

“Then one day I’m at home and I get an email saying I have a $25 gift card to Game Stop for video game and it brings a big smile to my face that people are out there trying make this an easier time for us seniors and all the things we’ve lost,” said Benton, who didn’t know his family had posted his photo and bio on the Hamilton adoption group.

Hamilton school parent Tara Hypes and two other school parents discovered the idea online from some out-of-state school systems and last week started a local version.

“It is growing so quick,” said Hypes. “We have over 900 members and I started the group around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. It is going over so well.

“Seniors can be adopted by three people, and we’ve had to slow down the posting so we can make sure every kid gets adopted. The community has really taken off with this, but Hamilton is known to do that when someone in our town needs something. I don’t even have a senior, my boys are 10 and two years old, but I heard of this idea and knew we had to do it for these kids.”

The idea has also led to the creation of senior adoption sites for Middletown and New Miami schools.

“I heard all the seniors were texting about it the first night we started it, so I know they are all excited for a little special attention that they all beyond deserve, and I also think the surprise of when/what your gifts may be makes it that much more exciting,” Hypes said.

Hamilton Board of Education member Shaquila Simmons Mathews was pleased the philanthropic idea for area seniors has caught on.

“I love the idea of adopting a senior, it has been a tough time for them,” said Mathews. “Your senior year is something special. Who would of thought something like this would have happened and their senior year would have been disrupted by a global pandemic.”

It’s a digital way, she said, of saying “we see the greatness in you and we want to celebrate you and see you of your the next chapter of your life.”

Hamilton High School parent Jennifer McGee has seen her son, Jarvis, adopted by three city residents.

“So far he has gotten cards and a Domino’s pizza gift card. He was so excited,” said McGee.

Benton said “I don’t even know these people and it’s insane how much kindness is bring brought to us by random people.”

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