New Mexico teacher adopts 15 high school seniors amid COVID-19 | KOB 4

New Mexico teacher adopts 15 high school seniors amid COVID-19

Faith Egbuonu
Updated: May 06, 2020 11:15 PM
Created: May 06, 2020 06:47 PM

ROSWELL, N.M. — Lizzy Owen, a Roswell teacher, is spreading joy around town by adopting high school seniors across New Mexico and out of state amid COVID-19.

So far, Owen said she’s adopted 11 high school seniors in Roswell and 4 in Colorado, Minnesota, Ohio and Maryland.

“It was all taken away from them, so I think they just need that little extra to keep them going,” said Goddard’s Life skills teacher, Lizzy Owen. “I just think they need the recognition for the work they have put in for 12 years.”

Owen said she sends her seniors gift bags each week.

“They’ve been getting junk food—I think one time, I gave them a box of pens with junk food and I've given them gift cards.”

With the state’s emergency orders put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19, high school seniors will not be able to walk across the stage they’ve always dreamed of.

“I mean, I was looking forward to walking the stage, having prom—all this hard work, just to have some fun and we can’t even have it anymore,” said Roswell High senior, Natalie Tarango. “It’s been really devastating for us seniors, all this hard work and everything for nothing, it’s just really heartbreaking.”

“At first, it didn’t really hit like ‘Oh, whatever, we’re not really going to school anymore,’ then a week later, it really sucked, like ‘Wow, school’s over,” said Goddard High senior, Katelyn Luman. “I figured I’d go back to class seeing those bunch of crazy kids, at least one more time. I didn’t get that we’re not going to be able to walk across the stage with those same crazy kids I grew up with.”

According to Roswell Independent School District, all school games have been canceled as well as prom following Gov. Michelle Lujan-Grisham’s emergency orders.

“We got the announcement that everything is completely canceled and that’s what I think hit the hardest,” Luman said. “Not only just our few games canceled, but the rest of our softball season."

“Its only three seniors on our team and only one of us is going to continue to play for college,” Luman said.  “The other two, it’s our last time playing together and since three of us were like really best friends, we hang out like every weekend-- it really sucks, because we will never get to play with each other again.”

“I have my prom dress and everything sitting there, waiting for me to try on,” Tarango said. “I think every girl is always looking forward to prom. It’s just something so fun, and you can be glamorous and just have fun with your friends. I was definitely looking forward to that, because we all go our own ways after, so we probably can’t have something like that together again.”

The Roswell Independent School District has found a way to honor seniors amid COVID-19.

Officials told KOB 4 in a statement:

"Roswell Independent School District is excited to celebrate our graduates in a unique way this year.  We are working with Roy Granado from Lindmark Outdoor Media to display RISD Graduates pictures on two of the electronic billboards, one at 2710 N. Main and the other at 3204 N. Main. The Graduate adds will begin May 18th and run for 4 weeks."

In the meantime, Luman and Tarango said they’ll continue to move forward this year. Luman said she has plans to join the Army National Guard and Tarango plans to begin her studies at Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell.

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