Community members in the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School District are finding ways to honor members of the class of 2020 beyond the graduation plans that have been announced by the school district in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Leslie Gilbertson Bonshire and Leanne McCann are organizing a fundraiser on the behalf of the School of Environmental Studies senior graduation party. The Apple Valley magnet high school is not able to host the all-night part because of the coronavirus. The group is hoping to raise $12,000 to spend $100 on each student and provide each graduate with a gift bag of SES themed gifts and “other treasures,” according to the GoFundMe page for the fundraiser.

“Because our kids are missing out on a traditional graduation ceremony and party with their peers, we think it’s especially important to recognize them with something special to commemorate this rite of passage. COVID-19 has also impacted the committee’s ability to meet fundraising goals,” the organizers wrote.

As of Wednesday morning, over $5,000 had been raised at https://www.gofundme.com/f/school-of-environmental-studies-senior-gift-fund.

Some parents of Apple Valley High School seniors raised money to purchase 387 signs to honor the graduates and line them along Hayes Road. Parent Tami Allen, whose daughter Keni is part of the AVHS class of 2020, said their goal was to raise about $5,500 for the signs. They raised nearly $4,500 and a parent paid the balance.

Allen said several parents have also started an group on Facebook to connect nominated seniors with community members who can send them notes of encouragement, baskets of treats, goodies, school spirit or anything else to show that their hard work is appreciated.

“Everything we are doing is for our high school seniors,” she said.

For more information, find the Adopt an Apple Valley HS Senior Class of 2020 group on Facebook.

– Patty Dexter

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