Students: Request to honor Highland high senior Derrick Duff Jr. at graduation rejected

Graduating seniors angry over graduation rejection

Derrick Duff Jr. was popular for his skills on the basketball court, brains in the classroom and kind heart on campus.
 
"It was a tragedy losing him," said his classmate Alyssa Wharton.
 
The teen died in a car accident in March as he slept in the backseat.
 
"Even though he's not here, he's a part of our lives," said his friend Madison Miller.
 
"And losing him has brought us closer as a class. After losing someone who is really close to us we can see that we're not invincible. We are just kids and can lose anyone at anytime," said Wharton.
 
Wharton said she asked Highland High school administrators to honor him at graduation.
 
"Our first request was to have an empty seat for him on stage and a cap and gown on it. That was his seat and he was going to graduate with us," said Wharton.
 
But she said school administrators denied that request. So she requested to include his picture in the class slideshow but that was denied also.
 
"Our assistant vice principal said that would make the mood sad and graduation should be about our class celebrating and be a happy time," said Wharton.
 
Wharton said to add insult to injury, instead of a memorial page in the yearbook for Duff, the school pasted stickers of him on the back cover.
 
"The stickers were not even put straight. Most of them were slapped on sideways," said Wharton.
 
As for the graduation request denial, "I think it's rude and inconsiderate," said Wharton.
 
"I think a lot more should be done. They should  not just feel that he's dead and that's it and over with. But that's how they are acting. He was a part of this campus. He was a part of the class of 2013," said Miller.
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