Megan Gauer and Daniel Lubliner

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, orders have been placed that have stopped or largely modified most school sponsored programs, including most forms of senior year celebrations. Seniors have been attending school through Zoom since March 2020 with the rest of the district, and have had almost all of their typical celebrations postponed or canceled. Because of the lack of celebrations for the class of 2021, some parents have gathered to form a senior-supporting program called Adopt a Senior. 

Adopt a Casa 2021 Senior, which is the program’s full name outlined on their Facebook group, was launched by parents of seniors, Rachel Back and Kimi Colaizzi. Through the help of their Facebook group and Google Forms, and mass emails, these parents have helped match community members with students. Once the pairs are made, the community members are instructed to “adopt” their student by bringing them gift baskets, etc. Each senior was instructed to fill out a Google Form outlining their interests and needs, while the adopters were instructed to bring at least two deliveries to their adoptees. 

Back comments on the success of the program so far. 

“We feel the program has been very successful. We have about 412 seniors at Casa this year. We have matched about 285 seniors with adopters. Given the fact that we were unable to advertise through the school announcements or emails, we feel the fact that we have reached 285 seniors is pretty successful. We would really like to be even more successful and reach every single senior!” said Back. 

Although every student that filled out the form has been matched with an adopter, Back notes that it is not too late for seniors to sign up to be adopted. The program is intended to function up until graduation in June. 

Additionally, Back explains she and Colaizzi’s drive behind starting up the program. 

“[Colaizzi] and I wanted to bring some joy to the 2021 Casa seniors in a year that has been full of many disappointments. We know that this program cannot take away the pain of losing so many important senior milestones, and the lack of being on campus. We just hoped to put smiles on the senior’s faces. A byproduct of this program is the joy it has brought all of the adopters. It feels good to give and the seniors have been so appreciative,” said Back. 

Senior Isabella Demo, an adoptee of the program, explains her experience with being adopted and her appreciation for the program. 

“The program is a nice way to show the seniors that they’re appreciated and that their hard work means something. After having most of the year taken away, it is very nice to see so many people in the community getting together to help make our year a little better. The lady that had me wrote me a nice letter and decorated the box that my gift was mailed in. I felt really happy opening it and appreciated after all of my hard work this year,” said Demo.  

Demo, whose mom was also an adopter for another senior, notes that her favorite part of the program has been seeing how generous people in the Petaluma community have been to the senior class. 

Seniors have been receiving various gifts, such as baskets with their favorite snacks, room decorations, gift cards to local businesses, college gear, and specific gifts that reflect each senior’s unique interests and hobbies. 

Though many senior traditions have been impacted by COVID-19 this year, community members like Back and Colaizzi are eager to ensure that the class of 2021 is properly celebrated amid the troubles that the pandemic has brought. 

To find out more about the Adopt a Senior program and view photos of recipients and their gifts, visit the Adopt a Casa 2021 Senior page on Facebook.