The Adopt a HAHS Hawk Senior program showed support and love to Hamburg Area High School’s Class of 2020.

Community members adopted a graduating Hamburg senior and sent gifts, delivered yard signs, balloons and snack baskets over a several-week period.

“I was shocked that someone would do something like this just for me and ALL of my classmates,” said Hamburg Area High School Class of 2020 President Paiton Albrecht. “The feeling of joy came over me as I felt firsthand the impact our small town has. This has made our lives. The out pour of love and support is something we will never forget.”

“These are hard times and not just for us because we lost our senior year but many of our families are dealing with loss on many different levels,” continued Albrecht. “This gives us all a bit of pep to move forward to give us a bit of cheer in honor of our senior year.”

In a message to the community, Albrecht said, “From all the seniors, THANK YOU. Your actions and kind words will last with us forever. You will forever be our secret cheerleaders!”

Hamburg senior Andy Jackowski said he was very shocked and surprised when he was greeted with a “Congrats Andy” sign and a gift bag.

“In that moment I really felt special, and I felt that I was loved and cared for,” said Jackowski. “It was a huge morale booster for me, even with these unprecedented times, I felt truly happy. It was the first genuine smile I had for a while.”

Jackowski was adopted by three families as part of the Adopt a HAHS Hawk Senior program.

“I wanted to thank everyone who has helped out the Class of 2020, or anyone who is helping with the relief efforts for COVID-19,” he added.

His mother, Beth Jackowski, LPN, also the nurse at the Hamburg Area Middle School, is grateful to the Adopt a HAHS Hawk Senior program.

“As a member of this community, parent of a 2020 senior and also the nurse at the middle school – this group brought smiles to our seniors and ALL were adopted within a few hours! What a GREAT place to live and learn!” she said.

Hamburg Area High School librarian and Senior Class Adviser Terri McCarthy-Wright started this program on April 20 to bring “cheer, encouragement, happiness, smiles to their faces, let them know that everyone is thinking about them, even strangers.”

“Our community wants to support them and make them feel loved,” she said.

McCarthy-Wright is the senior class adviser, LEO club adviser, Student Council adviser, Yearbook adviser, and HAEF vice president.

“I spend all school year planning events, and since March 13, I have spent my time unplanning and cancelling events,” said McCarthy-Wright.

Canceled events included elementary Easter egg hunts, a blood drive, May Day, the senior class trip, baccalaureate, graduation, HAEF bingo, yearbook distribution, academic hall of fame induction, top 20 awards ceremony, spring class of 2021 pictures, and the German exchange program and trip.

“It is very depressing,” said McCarthy-Wright, who is also the mother of two in the Class of 2020; Kayla graduates from Kutztown High School and Kiana graduates from college.

“I had seen the Adopt a Senior idea and many other ideas, but I didn't know how I would coordinate any of them, by myself, outside of school,” she said.

On April 19, McCarthy-Wright received a Facebook message from Susan Hanlon, mom to HAHS senior Patrick and former “Hawk Happenings” editor in chief Sarah Hanlon, Class of 2015.

“Susan is a librarian at Northwestern Lehigh School District and told me about their Adopt a Senior program they were doing. I looked into it, contacted the person at that school district who was organizing it to get permission, and I contacted Mr. Beissel, our principal for permission. By Monday morning, he said he supported it,” said McCarthy-Wright.

Around noon on April 20, McCarthy-Wright created a private Facebook group to share her idea and look for people willing to adopt Hamburg High’s 180 seniors.

“My biggest concern was that some might not get adopted. Boy was I wrong!” said McCarthy-Wright. “Within about four hours, all were adopted! I was sending so many messages with information, Facebook thought I was a spamming robot, so I kept getting kicked out, even after doing all the security checks. I decided to write down the requests by hand and I finished contacting people the next day.”

She explained how the Adopt a Senior program works.

“Some people chose what senior they wanted, and in some cases, that student was already adopted and I had to ask if they wanted another,” said McCarthy-Wright. “Then some said they would take anyone. My goal was to make sure every student got adopted at least once.”

Over the next few weeks, people sent gifts, delivered yard signs, balloons, snack baskets, and other gifts. If they didn’t know their senior, McCarthy-Wright emailed some teachers to get information and then shared that with the adopted family.

“Some are doing it anonymously and some are doing it with their identities known,” she said. “The way our community came together to support the seniors is remarkable. Within four hours, all 180 seniors were adopted, and I’m still getting requests. The pictures posted on the Facebook group page warm my heart - seeing the smiles and happiness that this program is bringing to them.”

McCarthy-Wright also noted that DWegs Photography LLC (https://www.dwegsphotography.com/) in Boyertown is donating 20 percent of the profits of yard signs for Hamburg students to the Class of 2020 account at Hamburg.

“This is so generous and helpful to contribute towards graduation expenses,” she said.

On May 1, through the Facebook group Adopt a HAHS Hawk Senior, McCarthy-Wright introduced the next program, a card shower. People can email McCarthy-Wright at termcc@hasdhawks.org and tell her how many names they want.

“I just use an alphabetical list and send them the information and those people will send cards to the seniors, cards of encouragement, hope and support,” she said.

For more information, go to the Facebook group Adopt a HAHS Hawk Senior.

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