COVID robbed the Clearview Regional High School Class of 2020 out of many senior year milestones, but there was a silver lining: They didn’t miss out on everything.
The seniors still had homecoming. They celebrated Halloween, winter holidays, and Valentine’s Day together. They have memories – albeit fewer than they should – of hanging with their friends and teachers in the classroom, socializing without social distancing.
It’s a little different for the Class of 2021.
“This class has not had one traditional senior day,” Stephanie Dickinson said. “It’s not even just the big things. The little things – seeing their friends, that social aspect – it’s been really tough on them.”
Dickinson, whose own daughter is a Clearview senior, knew she wanted to do something to lift the students’ spirits. She just wasn’t sure what. To help figure it out, Dickinson started the Parents of the Clearview Class of 2021 group in October, hoping to gather like minded moms and dads who wanted to help.
“We just want to at least say, ‘We get it. We feel for you,’” said Dickinson, who took the helm as chair of the informal group.
More than 200 people joined the group on Facebook, and weekly Zoom meetings became the best means for communication and brainstorming.
“It kind of evolved from there,” Dickinson explained.
The goal of parents in the group is to do something special for the seniors every month, and so far, they’re meeting that goal. There are 390 seniors in Clearview’s Class of 2021, so even a seemingly smaller venture is a significant undertaking. Local businesses – of which the group is so appreciative – have been a critical component to helping plans come to fruition, with gift card, coupon and item donations.
October was goodie bags with candy and Chick-fil-A gift cards. November was a “wellness theme,” with 2021 face masks donated by Pat’s Pizza and various coupons, and January was a “back to school” goodie bag theme.
December, Dickinson remarked, was perhaps the most successful.
“We called it Winter Wishes,” she said.
Modeled loosely after a Secret Santa gift exchange, the program allowed seniors who wanted to take part (more than half signed up) to fill out a wish list with their favorite things. Community volunteers were then randomly matched with a senior student to provide a personalized holiday gift.
“Every sponsor went out and shopped for that senior. The bags were just beautiful. People went a little overboard,” Dickinson noted. “Every gift was so thoughtful.”
The bags were then distributed during a drive-thru event, where each student also received a complimentary cup of hot cocoa.
“It was a lot of work,” Dickinson admitted, “but a lot of fun.”
That seems to be the name of the game for the parent group, which is comprised of many members contributing ideas online, but only about 10 active members who are working to make those ideas come to life.
“We’re limited with volunteers and the money we have,” Dickinson acknowledged, adding they would be happy with more volunteers coming on board. She noted she was grateful for all of the ideas being contributed, but hopes to see some of those parents take control and bring an idea to fruition.
In March, the group is gearing up for a Lucky 21 Basket Auction. Seniors will all get a T-shirt donated by a local company, and the group is working on getting 21 baskets donated from local businesses. Seniors can then drop raffle tickets in to win the baskets. There is also the possibility of a car parade later in the school year, as well as an outdoor movie night; the parents hope to partner with Harrison Township for those events.
The pandemic, of course, makes it difficult to plan anything too far ahead.
In the interim, the group has started a new way to fundraise for future efforts supporting the Class of 2021.
For $30, Operation Pion“Neer” A Senior will deliver 10 specially designed pioneer signs to a senior’s front lawn that will remain for 48 hours before moving onto the next student. The “secret agent” delivery team will assemble the signs during the evening hours. Orders can be placed now, and the fun will run from March 2 through June 13.
Additionally, “View Strong” lawn signs are being sold districtwide for Clearview families to show their support of the students. Those signs are $20 and can also be personalized.
Dickinson is proud the group has done something each month for the Class of 2021, with no indication of slowing down until the school year wraps up in June.
“Even if it’s something small, it’s just a way to let them know we haven’t forgotten about them,” Dickinson explained, “to bring a smile to their face.”
The Parents of the Clearview Class of 2021 are grateful to all area businesses that have so far supported its campaign: Chick-fil-A (Mantua), Pat’s Pizza (Mullica Hill), The Law Offices of Brian Duffield, Nancy Kowalick Real Estate, Gather to Graze, Dippy’s Ice Cream, J&J Mechanical, Central Carpets, Langmore Salon, Hello Gorgeous (Mullica Hill), Rockin Roller Mobile Arcade, Victory Physical Therapy, Olive Restaurant, RiverWinds Golf Club, Botto’s Italian Restaurant, Cakes by Sarah, Fitness Yoga, Could10 Car Wash, Auto Shine Car Wash, MassMutual and Amici Bakery Mullica Hill.
Any businesses interested in donating to the Parents of the Clearview Class of 2021 can email firstname.lastname@example.org.