Raleigh, N.C. — Friday night’s graduation for Wakefield High School students was bittersweet as they remembered their classmate who died in a drunken-driving crash in January.
The ceremony was especially difficult for Dr. Rosemarie Newman and her family. Just before diplomas were handed out, the principal called for a moment of silence in honor of Newman's son, Sadiki Young.
He was supposed to march in with the Class of 2007.
“The whole process of graduation, moving on and all the aspirations he had, they’re gone,” Newman said.
Sadiki died in January when the car he was riding in went off an embankment on Wakefield Plantation Drive.
Newman said it was difficult to attend graduation, but she wanted to share the proud moment with Sadiki’s friends.
“A lot of them I’ve known since elementary school,” she said.
Justin Jefferson and Robby Hartinger had been Sadiki's best buddies since childhood.
“It’s bittersweet in that sense,” Justin said. “He’s not here with us like we originally planned.”
“I’m sad, but I know he’d be happy for the two of us, because we were all three best friends,” Robby said.
Family and friends said Sadiki had a bright smile and friendly personality that are sorely missed.
“Seeing his cap, gown, his honor tassels sitting on a seat, lying on a seat without him – that’s something I can’t describe to anyone,” Newman said. “I hope [his friends and classmates] remember what he stood for and just what a wonderful person he was and how he made everybody feel great.”
Since her son’s death, Newman has made it a point to talk to high school students about the dangers of drinking and driving.
As for Sadiki’s friends, Justin plans to attend Wake Forest University, and Robbie plans to attend NC State.