Adopt A Wisconsin High School Senior

On the afternoon of Friday, March 13th, 2020, possibly the most frightening Friday the 13th to date, many Wisconsin students were told to clean out their lockers. Shortly thereafter, seniors learned that activities from prom to graduation were unlikely to occur. When Angilique Jones-Cornelius, a high school counselor at Golda Meir in Milwaukee Public Schools, learned that schools were closing, likely for the year, her seniors were top of mind. “Seniors have always been a passion of mine, as I want to see them be successful in their postsecondary pursuits,” Angilique explains. She knew then and there, that she had to respond.

Angilique connected with parents and educators to assess the problem. They found that many seniors were struggling to cope with the lack of positivity, support, and celebration around, what is to many of them, the most important accomplishment of their lives to date. In response, she set out to create a platform to bring joy and recognition to Milwaukee-area and Wisconsin students, drawing inspiration from some efforts she’d seen in her research.

Hence, the Adopt a High School Senior Facebook group was born. The group launched in April 2020, aiming to connect Wisconsin community members with parents or guardians of high school seniors.

Here’s how it works: Members ‘adopt’ seniors by sending a note or small gift to show support and to say congrats. Although the adoption model was not centered around monetary support, the group has far exceeded Angilique’s expectations. Community members have showered their adopted students with everything from gift baskets to personalized t-shirts and yard signs. Others have committed to mentor their adopted students throughout their college experience. Some have even stepped up to make donations for 10 scholarships that adopted students are soon going to be invited to apply for.

Angilique shaped this initiative to be a statewide effort, not wanting to limit it to her students, and structured it to feature local vendors and homegrown support. “I want every senior in Wisconsin to be celebrated,” she states, emphasizing both the emotional and economic burden being felt by both the students and their families. And it seems like Angilique may be close to achieving this goal! The Facebook group has scaled to over 5,000 members (and counting!), with 500+ Wisconsin seniors already adopted by community members including educators, healthcare workers, corporate professionals, and many more. There are more requests posted each day.

Of the adopted students, two stand out as proof that her efforts are worthwhile: First, a teen mom who wasn’t sure she would even be recognized who received endless adoption requests and supportive notes. Second, a young woman who was planning to opt out of higher education and, thanks to the advice and support from her adopter, has now enrolled in college.

Angilique is confident that this initiative is just getting started, with hundreds of more stories like the above likely to occur. With more Wisconsin seniors seeking adoption everyday and graduation rapidly approaching, now is the time to act.

Call to Action: Request access to join the Adopt a High School Senior Facebook group today and encourage others to do the same. As Angilique puts it, this isn’t about her or any of the adults—It’s about the students. We owe it to them and the future of our community to answer the call.