Dowagiac senior creates Instagram account to celebrate graduates

DOWAGIAC — In English teacher Kristyn Turner’s classroom at Dowagiac Union High School, a board is set up for seniors in her class to share their plans after high school.

When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down face-to-face instructions for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year, senior Madison Potter wanted to keep the tradition of showcasing her peers alive.

“I know how we didn’t get to put our future plans on the board, so I wanted to do something else, where we could post and let everyone know what we are doing after high school,” Potter said.

Her solution was to create Instagram account @dowagiac_seniors. On the page, seniors’ names are posted, along with a photo and additional information about their post-secondary prospects. Some students’ bios list them attending Michigan colleges, going into the army or studying cosmetology.

“I have students send me what major they are doing, what college they are attending and a senior photo,” Potter said of the submission process. “Even if you are going straight into a job, I still want to post and let people know what you are doing.”

Potter said she had received positive feedback from several parents who support her project. Currently, the account has 34 posts. Potter chose to use Instagram instead of Facebook so people can view multiple seniors at once.

Potter’s own plans include attending Olivet College and majoring in health sciences with a coaching minor. Potter will also be continuing her athletics career and playing softball for the Comets. 

Overall, Potter said the project had given her, and her classmates, hope during a time when their senior year was flipped upside down. Potter said the account is also helping forge friendships between classmates who may be attending the same college.

“I think it’s helping seniors see that there are going to be plenty of people that they still know going to school with them,” she said. “My friend Jenna didn’t have a roommate, and she is going to Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids next year. There was a girl who texted her from Edwardsburg after seeing the Instagram account and asked if she still needed a roommate.”

Potter said Dowagiac’s senior class of 2020 has had to come together in a way different than other classes have had to in the past. When she first heard in-person instruction would be canceled, she was surprised.

“I really couldn’t get my head wrapped around it,” Potter said. “It was so sad because that Wednesday we were at a basketball game with a bunch of people, and then next thing you know, nothing. It was heartbreaking, but it was mostly the fact I couldn’t wrap my head around it.”

Potter plans to continue to collect photos and submissions from her senior classmates until the end of the school year.

“We have 120 in our class. I would hope to get as many seniors as I possibly can,” she said.