A time that is supposed to be one of the most joyful moments in a young person’s life was overshadowed by tears at Sunday’s graduation of the senior class of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Seventeen students and faculty – including four seniors who were supposed to have received diplomas – were killed during the February 14 shooting at the Parkland, Florida, high school.
The graduating class, parents and guests solemnly paid tribute to their slain friends in a number of ways.
Senior class president Julia Cordover urged students to change the world by voting in this November’s congressional elections.
The parents and siblings who came to the stage to pick up the diplomas in place of the murdered children got standing ovations.
Some students wore pictures of shooting victims on top of their graduation caps while others had price tags reading “$1.05” dangling from their hats – that is the price per Florida school student that activists say the National Rifle Association donated to Republican Senator Marco Rubio.
Comedian Jimmy Fallon, host of TV’s Tonight Show, was a surprise guest speaker at the ceremony.
“Choose to move forward and don’t let anything stop you. Thank you for your courage and your bravery,” he told the audience.
Another poignant high school graduation ceremony was held near Houston Saturday where 10 people were gunned down at Santa Fe High School two weeks ago.