Editor’s Note: The original video has been replaced by a new version. Some names were shown in the original and were not part of the topic of the story.
EDMOND, Okla. (KFOR) – It started with a simple request. Edmond resident Michele Watson, who had lost her son Cole in a devastating car crash the summer before his junior year, wanted to remember him at Deer Creek High School’s upcoming graduation in May.
She reached out to administrators to ask for a chair at the ceremony that would bear his name along with a verbal mention, and a moment of silence.
In a social media post Watson said that in return, she was told by the principal that were “only seats for students who will be present.”
At least three other students have died during the 2021-2022 school year at Deer Creek High School.
That response and a desire to permanently honor students who have passed led scores of students to walkout during the school day on Monday afternoon.
Organizers said Monday that they hoped the walkout would lead to a long-term way to memorialize students.
“I organized this to stand up for the kids who couldn’t…the kids who can’t be here to say that they deserve that seat,” said Mia Hawthorne, a sophomore at the school.
“We just want a moment of silence, anything. A rose on the seat…literally anything to help celebrate their lives that they lost at this at the school,” added junior Nathan Griffis.
Cole’s mother declined to go on camera Monday but said in a message to KFOR that she hoped the school would accommodate her request for a seat labeled with his name, along with the mention and moment of silence.
Students told KFOR Monday they hope a new policy will be put in place to honor all students that have passed away, posthumously at their graduation ceremonies
In an email sent to KFOR, administrators said in part,” We have been working on a plan to commemorate staff and students that are no longer with us. We want to take into consideration the requests (if any) of all families while also respecting their privacy. However, our primary concern is the health and well-being of our students and ensure that any practices put into place align with this objective.”