When Jacob Jackson walked into his first kindergarten class in Everett around 12 years ago, his mother, Shenae, dreamed of the day he would graduate from high school – how it would be for him to walk across the stage and celebrate with family.
Now, that has all been taken away from students and families in the Class of 2020, and Shenae Jackson has started a fast-growing movement in Everett and beyond to Adopt-a-Student in the Class of 2020.
To soften the “raw deal” so many senior students have gotten, they are calling on the community to adopt members of the class and provide them with a gift to encourage them in their final days of high school – which is now online.
“I started this out about 10 days ago and it’s up to 831 people and going very well,” she said. “With everything that has happened in the last two months, it has completely stolen Jacob’s spirit. I wanted to do something to make these kids happy and to feel special and to know they aren’t forgotten. I feel our city forget them a bit too – especially seeing all the other cities around the state honoring their seniors.”
As soon as the page went up, it began to gather steam in Everett, and then it took off beyond the city lines. Jackson said she has been delivering gifts to cities and towns all around the area – even places she had never heard of.
“I felt bad making it just for Everett because in real life all seniors in the Class of 2020 are getting a raw deal so I made it for Everett and any senior graduating,” she said. “It’s like a full-time job because every day I look to see who needs to be adopted. I want to make sure no one is left out and my little babies are taken care of.”
The idea is that all of the seniors on Facebook, and those they know that aren’t on Facebook, can be “adopted” on the ‘Adopt a 2020 Everett High School Senior or Any 2020 Senior!’ page, after joining the group and being approved. Students are listed and those that adopt them are privately given the student address, and are asked to deliver them a gift of some sort by mailing it or dropping it off in a non-contact fashion.
Councilor Gerly Adrien had heard of the effort and asked all of her colleagues to help support the adoption campaign by donating or adopting students.
“Our Everett High School Senior Class will remember 2020 for COVID-19, ruining their senior year plans,” she wrote. “As a way to help make them happy, an Everett parent, Shenae Jackson, stepped up and created a group for people to adopt EHS Seniors, where the individuals can surprise the student they ‘Adopt’ with a gift. She has created 2020 baskets that she has personally dropped off to the students’ homes, costing her over $2,000. I think it would be a great idea if we, as a City Council, can send Shenae a gift of love of $25-100 each for all of the baskets she has made for students. My husband, David, and I will be donating $100 check in the mail to her. We are also adopting two students.”
So far, many students have been encouraged by the effort, and many said they felt the community hadn’t forgotten them.
For parents, it has helped too.
“I want to thank everyone that has adopted a senior and it is appreciated,” she said. “I’ve been planning this graduation since Jacob was born. It’s heartbreaking for the students, but also for the moms as well.”