Carmel Resident Remembers This Year’s Grads With Special Program

Carmel High School senior, pictured with his parents, David and Ann, received a surprise gift from community members and school district employee Geri Munnick on Tuesday as part of an Adopt a Graduate Program.

Donna Arceri Morey didn’t want Carmel School District’s 2020 graduates to have a milestone achievement go forgotten.

Not just the high school students, but the fourth-graders moving up to middle school and the eighth-graders heading to high school next year.

So earlier this month she did something about it. Morey established the Carmel Central Schools Adopt a Graduate Program, where a member of the community or family “adopts” a student in one of those grades and provides him or her with a card, balloons and gifts. The goal is to recognize their achievement and bring some happiness to a student whose lasting memory of what should have been a special year has been of a public health emergency instead.

“I’ve gotten, I can’t even tell you, how many e-mails from hundreds of people saying my child is so upset about not having graduation or not having prom and this is the is the first time I’ve seen them smile in a while,” Morey said.

Morey picked up the idea from her sister and some of her friends who launched a similar plan where they live in Dutchess County. She first compiled a list of the graduates in each of the three grades, then created a Facebook page where community members can register and select a graduate.

The family that adopts a student e-mails or messages their parents to get an idea what the youngster likes. Presents can include gift cards and/or a specific item. Most have totaled in the $50 to $100 range.

As of last week, 291 graduates had been adopted across the three grades with more on the way, Morey said.

Last Tuesday, Geri Munnick, a teaching assistant who has worked for the district for 21 years, delivered a couple of small gift bags to graduating senior Zach Rubin. It contained a gift cards to Dunkin’ Donuts, Dick’s Sporting Goods and a couple of other of his favorite places and some Twizzlers and M&Ms.

Rubin said he had heard of the program through the community grapevine but didn’t know that he would be getting a package of gifts. He was pleasantly surprised when Munnick showed up at his door, although his parents, Ann and David, had been informed ahead of time.

“It definitely means a lot,” said Rubin, who will be going to the University of Colorado Boulder to study media production. “I really appreciate Geri coming out to my house and giving me presents and balloons. It really means a lot.”

While the end of his high school days isn’t what he had hoped fortoday’s technology has allowed him to spend plenty of time – virtually – with friends.

His mother, Ann, said the disruption has had a silver lining.

“We’ve been taking advantage of the quality time with family, cooking together, baking together, eating meals together,” Ann Rubin said. “He’s been awesome, helpful and really positive, visiting friends at social distance and hiking. Just trying to get through it.”

Munnick thanked Morey for bringing a little bit of joy to this year’s graduates. When she heard about the program, she immediately decided to participate.

“Thank you for all your time and hard work you’re putting in to making sure students get adopted,” Munnick said. “This is a wonderful program and a fun way to celebrate the students who are moving up and graduating.”