Community steps up to support graduating high school seniors

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — As graduation plans remain up in the air for many school districts in the Piedmont, a new community campaign aims to help high school seniors who may not get to walk across a traditional stage.

“It just shows that they are loved,” said Jennifer Steele, whose son is a senior at Grimsley High School.

Steele was heartbroken when she realized her son would not have a traditional senior year. That’s why she made the “Adopt a Whirlie” Facebook group to match all of the 409 Grimsley seniors with a sponsor who will send them a graduation gift.

“Once I got one mom on there who posted a picture of her senior, another one, and from there it just took off,” Steele said.

Sheila Jiles also has a son who is graduating from Grimsley. When she saw Jennifer’s post, she wanted to get involved in organizing the project.

“We have over 500 members right now and there have been over 16,000 posts,” Jiles said.

Her heart breaks thinking of the kids who won’t get their final moments in high school.

“I hope that the county will figure out a way that these children can have something,” Jiles said.

Guilford County seniors aren’t the only ones waiting for a verdict on graduation and missing out on senior year. Counties across the state have put the decision on hold as North Carolina enters another month of isolation.

“When prom gets canceled and when graduation gets moved or canceled altogether you can see the disappointment. They try not to say anything so that they don’t seem a certain way,” said Hannah-Ireland Durando, a Davidson County alum.

Durando started the Oak Grove High School “Adopt-A-Senior” group to support her friends in high school.

“This will usually be the time that a lot of seniors in our community do a senior walk where they get to see all of their old teachers. This is the time that everybody starts sending cards with money and little gifts so I know they’re missing out on that,” Durando said.

The Oak Grove group grew just as fast as Grimsley’s.

“We are all here for them and we are all rooting for them,” Steele said.

Parents and those who want to get involved can go on Facebook and join a local “adopt a senior” group. You will be matched with a graduating high school senior and can send them a small graduation gift.

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