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Students Sign Petition To Make School Acknowledge Their Deceased Classmate At Graduation

A high school in North Carolina is facing a firestorm of criticism as they refused a family’s request to mention their 17-year-old daughter, who died in a tragic accident last fall, in the graduation ceremony of what would have been her class.

The tragedy occurred when Rachel Rosoff was working as a lifeguard at a local pool when she drowned after being shocked in an electrical equipment failure. She was a senior at William G. Enloe High School and was planning to graduate with her class after the spring semester.

Rosoff’s parents and friends hoped she could be recognized during the commencement, but were told a memorial for Rachel at the graduation ceremony would not be appropriate.

“Because Graduation is meant to be a ceremony for the students’ accomplishments and a celebration thereof, we want to ensure that the ceremony maintains a happy, vibrant feel,” Principal Will Chavis explained in an email, which Rachel’s mom posted on Facebook.

Chavis claimed remembering the late teen might cause students to “react in ways that would take trained professionals (i.e. counselors) to support — we cannot ensure that at such an occasion. Consequently we will not have a memorial at graduation.”

Rachel’s sister, also a student at the same high school, launched a petition on change.org to demand the school change their decision.

“They feel it may cause sadness on a day that is supposed to be celebratory,” she noted. “They want to pretend she did not exist, which not only hurts me, but my family and her friends.”

Of note, the petition has already received close to 10,000 signatures.

In an interview with local Raleigh media sources, a spokesperson from Wake County schools said deciding against a memorial for Rachel was based on guidelines established by the National Association of School Psychologists.

Many of Rachel’s classmates and friends still hope she is at least mentioned at their commencement.

“I think it’s more of a sad thing they can’t recognize her,” Rachel’s friend Victoria Ward, explained in an interview. “She should be there with us.”

Rachel’s mom slammed the school’s decision:

“The students have spoken and agree that Rachel [should] be acknowledged,” she commented in an FB post. “Whose graduation is it anyway?”

Source: NY Daily News
Photo: NY Daily News Screenshot

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