DELL RAPIDS, S.D. (KELO) – As graduation is taking a non-traditional turn for high school seniors, parents are doing the best they can to support their kids even if they’re not their own.
Through a special Facebook group titled ‘Adopt a Class of 2020 Senior!’, families are connecting to other families with graduates to help bring some joy and enthusiasm to their student’s final year.
From a young age, it’s fair to say that Maleah Gordon has always cared about people.
It stated in Elementary School, where she spent much of her time helping a classmate who suffered from having seizures.
“Just the idea of helping people in need always inspired me to do so myself,” Montrose High School Senior Maleah Gordon said.
Once she graduates high school, she’s going to pursue nursing where she can deliver that same care to others. But, like many across KELOLAND, her class of students isn’t receiving a traditional graduation.
“At first, I was disappointed because I was like, ‘every other class got a real graduation and we’re the only class,'” Gordon said.
Her spirits were low, until one day she had a little care delivered to her doorstep.
“I was actually surprised; my mom didn’t tell me about this at all,” Gordon said.
Through a Facebook page called ‘Adopt a Class of 2020 Senior!’, her mother Rani expressed her daughter’s concerns. She was then contacted by Kara Merkwan, of Dell Rapids, who wanted to do something special for Gordon.
“I wanted a student who was going to nursing school and who had the same passion and drive that my mother had when she first stated,” Gordon’s ‘Adopter’ Kara Merkwan said.
She was inspired by her late mother who served as a nurse for 40 years.
“She is a big reason as to why I joined the Navy and became a medic in the Navy, and medicine, and… the nurses are just amazing,” Merkwan said.
Merkwan gave Gordon gifts of clothes, candies, and jewelry, but the real gift was something much deeper.
“It means a lot and it warms my heart knowing that a stranger would step out of her way and show her support to me during this time,” Gordon said.
“She is kind. She is very giving – oh I’m getting emotional. I’m sorry…” Merkwan said.
“It just means a lot to me,” Gordon said
For two strangers who have never exchanged a word this gesture spoke volumes.
As of today, the group has nearly 7,000 members ranging from all across the state. For anyone looking to get involved, you can visit the Adopt a Class of 2020 Senior! Facebook page.