It’s still not too late to sponsor a Class of 2021 Telluride High School senior, principal Sara Kimble explained.

The effort was launched recently to show appreciation for the school’s 60 graduating seniors, she added, as this academic year has been precarious, to say the least, during the COVID-19 pandemic. As of press time Tuesday afternoon, 16 students were yet to be sponsored, Kimble said.

“I think it tells the kids how much they are loved by the Telluride community,” Kimble added. “This is also a way for the community to be a part of the senior class. We have had younger classes sponsor a senior, and they will connect with those students.”

Individuals or businesses can elect to sponsor a senior through the program’s Facebook page, facebook.com/groups/1277241062671277. Kimble said sponsors have baked cookies and sent inspirational cards to seniors. One sponsor has even sent a senior a college T-shirt. Any small gesture goes a long way, Kimble said, as these students have had a year unlike any other, whether it was adapting to hybrid learning or forgoing seeing their friends in person. Not to mention extra-curricular activities, including athletics, being hindered.

“At THS our seniors are a special group of kids, and we love them. Our seniors have had a roller coaster of a year — some in school, some 100 percent remote all year, hybrid, etc., and through it all they have persevered. We want to honor them and all they have accomplished. We are trying to come up with creative ideas (mostly borrowed from other schools) to make them feel special,” according to the Facebook group. “We are starting a ‘sponsor-a-senior’ program to honor or graduating seniors. Senior parents can offer up their children to be ‘sponsored.’ This is where our amazing community comes in. You (an individual or business) may claim or ‘sponsor’ a senior. This means you choose to shower the senior you have chosen to adopt with letters, cards, flowers, candy, cookies, gift cards, emails, whatever you choose (think of this as a secret elf of sorts) for the next six weeks or so. There is no required schedule, financial commitment or contract. The commitment to the senior you choose is to be a positive influence and memory maker in their life (as they are dealing with hardships we will never understand). Please help celebrate their achievements and futures. Think of them as your extended family.”

The school district has navigated the pandemic relatively well, as hybrid scheduling has minimized widespread outbreaks.

Superintendent John Pandolfo explained that over 40 students and district staff members were tested via BinaxNOW rapid tests. All came back negative.

“Additionally, we tested 33 staff and 291 students through our normal COVID testing (last) week; one student result came back positive (Friday night), which will result in 13 middle school students quarantining because they were determined as close contacts. All students impacted have already been contacted,” he said in a superintendent message Saturday.

Coming out of spring break, last week was also the first time that in-person learning was available across all grades, which is a good sign, not only for this year but for next.

“This is an exciting time as we move toward the end of the school year with more of a sense of normalcy with each passing week,” Pandolfo said. “ … The energy in the halls of our middle and high school was great to see and feel. In addition to planning for all of our end-of-year events, we are also looking ahead to next school year with a plan to be safely operating in a ‘normal’ mode to the greatest extent possible. While there are many details to work through, and we will certainly adapt and use things that we learned this year to improve our operation, I feel confidant saying we will be 80-90 percent back to ‘normal,’ at least.”