Honor deceased students at Graduation - Nick deserves his name on the program

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Child loss is an excruciating pain. When our children die, bereaved parents, family members and friends do anything and everything to keep their memory alive, and to always honor them.

High School graduation is significant milestone in a young person's life. For some it comes easy, and for others it can be a struggle. There are many ways deceased students are recognized at their graduation. Some get a special song sung by a choir, some get an empty chair, with a cap and gown on that chair, some get to have their photos displayed, some get their names read and their parent accepts their diploma, and some get their child recognized in all of the above ways. Me? my son? He gets a plant.... I get another plant to remind me my child is dead. My son's name will be mentioned in opening remarks, but his name will not be included in the program with the living, apparently his death makes him insignificant to the others that are physically present. I will be given his diploma at the end of the ceremony, he's not worthy to have it along with the others. I asked If I could at least have his photo by his plant, and was told no. This is their policy. I think it is time to look at this policy again. There is no feeling I can compare to that of losing a child, and policies are obviously not a “one-size fits all”, but if there is one thing I am feeling right now about this, it is the insignificance of inclusion, which to many is more obvious, with the display of a plant... with no name and no photo.

I am not asking for an overhaul, or even more time to be taken away from those graduates still living, but for superintendent Matt Hillmann to consider looking at other policies around our country and state, lighten the stigma people seem to attach to traumatic death, or any death, find a way to offer comfort and acknowledge in a way that isn’t insignificant.

If a deceased child cannot have an empty chair, like many other graduation ceremonies allow, I am asking that the policy be updated to include a photo by his plant, and if not now, maybe in the future, the passed child’s name could appear along side their classmates, and grieving family and students see this student recognized with the others.



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