Rutherford teacher starts "Adopt a Senior" program to help seniors in need

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - For many high school seniors in Bay County, they don't have time to just be students anymore.

It costs $40 to adopt a senior, which covers the cost of their cap and gown for graduation. (WJHG/WECP)

Brayden Budding, a Senior at Rutherford, said, "After school, I work 4:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., and then on weekends, I get up at three in the morning to open and work until two in the afternoon."

Hurricane Michael left 15-20% of Rutherford's 196 seniors homeless, which is why one teacher stepped up to help out all of the senior class.

Lin Byrd, Teacher & Senior Class Advisor at Rutherford, said, "I thought, 'Let's raise some money, let's see if I can raise enough money to cover all of the costs for seniors for their cap and gowns,' which run between $35 and $40 a piece so it's not cheap."

Byrd, who has been teaching for 24 years, started the "Adopt a Senior" program at Rutherford to help relieve some of the financial burdens her students are facing.

"My main goal is to raise the money for the cap and gowns and stuff because that's such an important part of graduating, [I] don't want any kid not to participate in graduation because of money," said Byrd.

For Budding, who's been living with friends so he can graduate from Rutherford after his mom moved to Dothan due to the storm, the help means everything.

"It would help out a lot just to have my cap and gown... paid for and stuff like that, it would be a very big deal to me, very grateful," said Budding.

Thanks to Byrd's determination, students like Budding will be able to walk the stage they've worked so hard to get to.

"When you go to a school for three or four years, you want to graduate from that school, because we bleed black and gold, and you want to wear that cap and gown at the end of the year," said Byrd.

In the end, these students don't want to let their circumstances prevent them from hearing "Pomp and Circumstance" come May.

You can "Adopt a Senior" here.

If you don't want to or can't pay $40 but still want to donate, you can make out a check to Rutherford High School with "Adopt a Senior" in the memo line, and mail it to Rutherford or drop it off at the front office. Any proceeds left over from the cap and gown fund will go toward helping Rutherford students in need pay for their senior trip.

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