May 24, 2013
A night of celebration in Louisa County marred by tragedy, as 325 students received their diplomas during the graduation ceremony at the school's football stadium.
Dawn Ross, an 18-year-old high school senior, was supposed to graduate with her classmates Friday night, but died one day before the ceremony in a car crash on Route 33. Students honored Ross by writing RIP Dawn on their graduation caps and placing flowers on the chair she was supposed to sit on.
"In tragedies like this, the students really pull together with each other," said Louisa County Superintendent Dr. Deborah Pettit. "I think that's how they are coping with it, but we have given them the license to be able to celebrate as well."
Students say that have gone through a lot together over the past few years. An earthquake destroyed their school two years ago, and now, the loss of a classmate.
"I definitely think we've gotten a lot closer through all that we have been through together," said Ben Lowery, the class valedictorian. "I' think we've shown resilience by persevering through everything these past couple of years."
After a moment of silence in her honor, Ross' sister accepted a diploma on her behalf.