PLANO, Texas – A Texas teenager who battled a life-threatening illness while in high school says one class stands between her and graduating with her friends.
For teens who suffer from Cystic Fibrosis, there is no guarantee they will make it to their high school graduation.
“I’ve had this entire ceremony thought of in mind, at the big place and all my friends walking on stage. And then after you get off, you’re like, ‘Whoa, I’m done with high school. This is great,” said Victoria McKennon.
You wouldn’t know it from looking at the strong-willed 17-year-old, but Victoria has been very ill for most of her life.
She has spent a lot of time out of the classroom and in hospitals. However, she’s managed to catch up on most of her work and expects to graduate after making up one class this summer.
“I don’t know how long Victoria is going to live. Of course, we always aim for the moon, the sky and the stars, but in reality, her life span is limited. And so every experience is very important for her,” said Grace McKennon, Victoria’s mother.
Victoria and her family asked the school to let her walk on stage at the commencement ceremony in June. They say they don’t want her to get her diploma early, but want her to share the graduation experience with her friends.
The school declined, saying policy states, “to be eligible to participate in commencement activities and ceremonies, a student shall meet all state and local graduation requirements.”
A smaller ceremony is available after summer school, but Victoria and her family says it is just not the same.
“I think it would mean to me that she’s persevered through all her trials, that nobody can really notice and see what she’s been through other than our family,” Grace said.
“Because I’ve wanted to be a normal kid for so long now, and this is like almost like the definition of being a normal kid, like your senior year, you get to walk the stage. I’ve been looking forward to it for so long,” Victoria said.
Victoria’s family filed a complaint with the education department’s civil rights office, saying they hope the district will reconsider before graduation.