There haven’t been too many things for Anamosa High School seniors to smile about since the COVID-19 pandemic not only wiped away the remainder of the 2019-20 school year, but numerous events that would have created some life-lasting memories.
No prom. No traditional graduation. No arts, music and athletic events.
Jessica Fahey, mother of Anamosa senior Paige Fahey, decided she wanted to do something about it.
Fahey set up a Facebook group called ‘Adopt an Anamosa High School class of 2020 student,’ with the plan of showering Raider seniors with some extra love.
During the two weeks leading up to what would have been graduation weekend (May 17), people who adopted a senior were asked to shower them with love and attention to try and make up for some of what this year’s class was missing out on due to the virus.
The response was overwhelming.
“Within 24 hours of the Facebook group being created, every Anamosa senior who chose to put their names on the list was adopted,” Mary Curtis said, who joined in by adopting Lyndsay Gienapp and has been showering the Raider senior with gifts and attention on almost a daily basis.
“That’s a testament to our community and everyone’s willingness to step up and do what is right for our seniors. There haven’t been too many things for them to smile about during this pandemic. They’ve lost a lot of memories, and what we’re trying to do is give them a few of them back and, hopefully, put a smile on their faces along the way.”
For Gienapp, one of Curtis’ gifts came as a complete and total surprise Friday, May 8, outside her home.
And it put a huge smile on her face.
“At first, I was a little confused as to what exactly was happening when I walked out my front door,” said Gienapp, who was showered with music as former Anamosa gradate and current University of Missouri student Vann Barnette played his guitar and sang LeAnn Womack’s ‘I Hope You Dance’ as a crowd of onlookers (who were socially distancing) also showed up to honor Gienapp and listen to the beautiful performance.
“I figured out what was going on once I saw Mary Curtis standing there holding a sign and a bunch of flowers. I knew that she had adopted me and that this must be another one of the gifts. It was amazing.”
For Gienapp, losing so much of her senior year been a huge challenge.
“With prom being canceled and graduation being different than what it would normally have been, having something like what Mary and Vann did, walking out of my house and being showered with this kind of attention, is really extra special and a moment I’ll never forget. It helps to get my mind off of everything else going on.”
Barnette was more than happy to be a part of the event.
“I got a phone call from Mary on Monday, (May 4,) asking me if this was something I could help her out with,” Barnette said. “I didn’t know Lyndsay that well when we were both in high school, but just seeing the smile on her face and seeing how happy she was, was everything for me.”
Barnette learned the music and quickly memorized the lyrics.
“I had never played the song before, but it didn’t take long to get into the rhythm of it,” he said. “I love playing the guitar, and if I could help Lyndsay enjoy that moment, it was all worth it. Our seniors don’t have a lot to be happy about right now.”
Gienapp, who plans on double majoring at Coe College in Cedar Rapids in biology and chemistry, would like to eventually get into genetics.
“I’d like to thank Mary Curtis, Vann Barnette and Jessica Fahey,” she said. “I know so many of my classmates have enjoyed this Adopt a Senior program and have given us some memories that we’ll have for a very long time.”
Which is exactly what Curtis, and all of the adoptive parents, had been hoping for.