Fallen classmates remembered at Mathews graduation

by Charlie Koenig - Posted on Jun 19, 2013 - 01:58 PM

Photo: Keinan Triplett put on his “2013” shades as he walked on stage to get his diploma during Saturday’s Mathews High School graduation. The Harry M. Ward Auditorium was packed to watch 88 young men and women become Mathews High School graduates. Photos by Charlie Koenig

Keinan Triplett put on his “2013” shades as he walked on stage to get his diploma during Saturday’s Mathews High School graduation. The Harry M. Ward Auditorium was packed to watch 88 young men and women become Mathews High School graduates. Photos by Charlie Koenig

Photo: MHS graduate Nancy Barnhardt, at right, gets a hug from Bev Barnhardt, the school’s retiring French teacher (and Nancy’s mom) during the ceremony. At left, students got ready in the school’s cafeteria, with Abby Sorey using her cell phone as a mirror.

MHS graduate Nancy Barnhardt, at right, gets a hug from Bev Barnhardt, the school’s retiring French teacher (and Nancy’s mom) during the ceremony. At left, students got ready in the school’s cafeteria, with Abby Sorey using her cell phone as a mirror.

During Saturday afternoon’s commencement exercises at Mathews High School, the 88 young men and women who received diplomas weren’t the only ones honored by the audience that filled the school’s auditorium. Two members who weren’t there to walk with their classmates were also remembered.

Deanna Christy Haywood, who died in a car accident on April 20, and Scott Thomas Holmberg, who passed away in 2012, received standing ovations as their names were announced during the presentation of diplomas.

"It’s hard looking down at all of my classmates and seeing the two empty seats where our departed friends should be," class president Kayla Robins said in her remarks.

"Our class has definitely been through a lot, losing two peers within a year of each other," she continued. "However, we have come out not only closer but with an important lesson that we should cherish our lives and those of our friends and family because no one is guaranteed time."

A scholarship had already been established in memory of Haywood, with two students—Mariah Jowers and Amber Mountford—receiving inaugural $500 Give.Live.Hug awards at the graduation ceremony.

For the most part, though, Saturday’s hour-and-a-half long ceremony was light-hearted as speakers reflected on the good times at MHS and looked ahead to life after high school.