The Proud Parents of the Class of 2021. Top left to right: Leigh Small, Colleen Amann, Stephanie Galeckas; Middle left to right: Kim Gambardella, Kelli Crosby, Christine Scammell; Bottom: Amy Spooner. Not pictured: Leanne Kazilionis and Mary Starr. Courtesy photo Colleen Amann

SCARBOROUGH — For many parents of the Scarborough High School, Class of 2021, the cancellation or alteration of anticipated senior traditions is as painful for them as it is for their students.

The Proud Parents of the Class of 2021, a group of parents whose mission is to support and recognize their seniors this year, has started partnering with school administration and local businesses to acknowledge seniors with gifts, prizes and upcoming surprises, said Colleen Amann, a senior parent and group member.

In January, the team paired up with The Holy Donut to get Scarborough seniors coupons worth one free doughnut or coffee, which were delivered to Scarborough High School, said Amann. For February, Jersey Mike’s is offering Scarborough seniors 50 percent off one sub every Wednesday of the month if they present student ID.

A raffle will take place every Wednesday through the end of the school year, she said.

The group plans to give students something each month until graduation in June, said Amann, who added that her own experience in the school district contributed to her desire to help out.

“I have four kids,” she said. “My senior is my third who is coming through the Scarborough system. I have two daughters who graduated so I’m very familiar with the traditions that Scarborough High School has and have very fond memories of experiencing and sharing those. I have a deep sadness for what these kids are missing and how hard they’ve worked and how much they deserve to be celebrated and recognized.”

As January started, Amann felt the real possibility of another spring with the pandemic sinking in, she said.

“When January hit, I think, like many people, it was like, ‘Oh boy, it’s now 2021 and this is still here,'” she said. “For myself, personally, in 2020 I could say, ‘Well, next year could be better. Next year we could have a graduation.’ And then January hit, and it hit like, ‘Wow we’re still living like this.'”

This year’s seniors lost their junior prom in the spring of 2020, after the pandemic started affecting daily lives in March, Amann said. Since then, a majority of senior traditions, even sports seasons, have looked different or were cancelled.

These traditions are “events that most of us experienced in some shape or form in our own high school career,” Amann said. “To think that this class could graduate never having attended a prom of their own is just a very unusual thought. Their grandparents had proms — it’s just so weird of a thing.”

The college process was also altered, with students unable to tour many campuses in-person, Amann said. Out-of-state travel guidelines made visiting campuses for a drive-by tour difficult.

“I wanted to get involved to help maximize thinking outside the box and what can be done in a year where there’s so much we haven’t been able to do,” she said. “I think there’s ways to be creative but it takes a bit more manpower, so I was interested in being a part of that team to promote other ideas and celebrate the kids.”

Christine Scammell, member of the Proud Parents of the Class of 2021, said the loss that the seniors are feeling this year has affected many in the community.

“I think if you’re a parent, it doesn’t matter whether your child is a senior or not — we’re all feeling some sadness and grief for our kids,” Scammell said. “It pulls everyone’s heartstrings. We know we can’t fix the big picture so we need to make what we have better in some way.”

Incoming high school freshmen have certain hopes and visions for senior year, so to lose many of those traditions without warning is hard, she said. A goal for the parents is to give their seniors happy memories.

“It’s just a matter of trying to give them some normalcy in a world that’s not normal,” Scammell said. “A lot of these kids as freshmen anticipated their senior year. They expected it to look a certain way with their prom and lots of senior activities and homecoming.”

Parents also have a role in their students’ successes, making the pandemic difficult for them as well, said Amann.

“I also think these milestones, while they are the students’, they’re also the parents’ milestones,” Amann said. “We worked very hard to get our children here, so that motivated me. Obviously, the kids are a priority, but the parents, too — we want these celebrations. These are important milestones in our lives, too.”

Although the year has been challenging, parents are beginning to see some hope, said Scammell.

“I think parents have also been frustrated and sad, and we’ve had some good luck so far in what we’re trying to do,” she said. “Parents are feeling a little more hopeful in feeling we can have some different traditions and new traditions but maybe also something different for the spring.”

The Proud Parents of the Class of 2021 have created a page for donations, scarborough.revtrak.net/donations/#/v/SHS-Class-of-2021-Donation-156, said a press release. People with questions can email [email protected]

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