Wake Forest-Rolesville High has empty seats at graduation
Posted June 10, 2011 11:13 a.m. EDT
Updated June 10, 2011 6:33 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — Two seats were empty at Wake Forest-Rolesville High School's graduation Friday, honoring a senior and a junior who died in a wreck over the weekend.
A blue graduation robe was draped over a seat for senior Matthew Speight, who also would have turned 18 Friday.
A sash decorated a seat for Lane Meyer, 16, who would have been a junior marshal in the ceremony, an honor reserved for the top academic achievers in the rising class.
Heather Flowers, the older sister of the third fatal wreck victim, 16-year-old Austin Leonard Flowers, graduated.
The nearly 460 students, families and teachers also held a moment of silence during the noon ceremony at the Raleigh Convention Center.
The valedictorian's and the salutatorian's speeches did not mention the students' deaths. School officials said they did not change their speeches because they wanted to stay with a positive message.
"As we celebrate your graduation, let us take time to remind our loved ones how much we appreciate them, and let’s promise to take care of each other," said Principal Tina Hoots.
Rising senior Holden McLemore called the graduation ceremony "bittersweet."
"We try to remember the good things and good memories, but it’s hard to move past this," he said.
Speight, Flowers and Meyer died in a wreck at Old Pearce and Zebulon roads Sunday evening.
State troopers said that Flowers was going 129 mph and lost control of his Dodge Challenger. It ran off the road and crashed into a tree at 90 mph.
A fourth student, Brenden Pearce, 16, survived the wreck and was in good condition at WakeMed Thursday. The four teens were heading home from an event at Rolesville Baptist Church.