Alexandria City High School seniors walked across a stage Saturday to receive their diplomas – a bittersweet moment for the community as it also grieves the loss of one of its own.
It was a day full of cheers and applause as the first class since the high school changed its name from TC Williams High School celebrated their graduation.
“At first I was scared that this wasn't going to happen because of how everything was going, but to be here and have my friends and family see this makes me really happy,” one graduate, Zainab Bah, said.
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Also set to walk across that stage was 18-year-old Luis Hernandez, who was fatally stabbed during a fight outside the Bradlee Shopping Center near the high school just days away from the milestone.
In a previous interview, Luis’ father had said he didn’t know if he would have the strength to pick up his son’s diploma.
But on Saturday morning, grieving family members walked the stage in his honor and accepted his diploma, followed by a standing ovation from the entire graduating class.
"It just shows how we can come together as a community to keep moving forward and just keep going and just support each other,” another graduate, Savannah Anderson, said.
Luis will be laid to rest in his parents’ home country of El Salvador.