PARKLAND, FL (ABC NEWS)- Nearly four months after a mass shooting killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the class of 2018 graduated and posthumous diplomas were presented to families of the four seniors who lost their lives.
Hundreds of seniors from the high school in Parkland, Florida, were clad in sashes that read “MSD Strong” as they walked across the stage to accept their diplomas during a private graduation ceremony Sunday afternoon at the BB&T Center in nearby Sunrise.
The ordinarily joyous occasion was bittersweet. Among the those killed in the Feb. 14 massacre were several 12th-graders who would have been graduating alongside their classmates: Nicholas Dworet, Joaquin Oliver, Meadow Pollack and Carmen Schentrup.
Each were honored with posthumous diplomas during Sunday’s ceremonies.
Principal Ty Thompson welcomed the crowd at the school’s 27th commencement ceremony, saying the commencement would “honor those not with us,” reminisce on the past four years, and celebrate their accomplishments.
The event’s program included the aspirational message: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Senior Eagles, Stoneman High School’s mascot, wore a special sash emblazoned with the rallying cry “MSD Strong” along with their caps and gowns.
Some family members of the victims did not attend, telling ABC News station WPLG that it was too painful.
“For me, it is too painful to celebrate without Carmen,” her sister, April Schentrup, told the station. “But I am proud of Carmen’s friends and classmates on their accomplishments. They’ve overcome so much. I know they will continue to make positive changes.”
Others attended in place of some of the victims.