BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Thousands of students across Kern County graduated this week moving on to the next phase of their lives. But not every student was present and one family says these celebrations are a reminder of things they will not have in the future.
Thirteen-year-old Nic Peterson should have been graduating from Fruitvale Junior High School on Friday alongside his classmates, celebrating with his family and friends, and of course, making summer plans. But instead, his life was taken too soon.
It's been 16 months since Nic was killed when a motorcycle he was on with his step-father was involved in a crash with an SUV. And Friday Fruitvale Junior High School made sure to include him during the school’s graduation celebration.
“He was kind, humble, gracious funny, and kind to all he met. I will always remember his stories on zoom and his stories about snakes.”
Those words and more were used to describe how Principal Erick Rouanzoin and teachers remember Nic.
“Some of his teachers had this to say about him: 'I was fortunate to have Nic in my class. He loved coming to school and being with his friends. He was always willing to help others and wanted to find a way to make others happy,'” said Rouanzoin.
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Nic’s family accepted his posthumous diploma and says it means the world that Nic was included in the ceremony.
Said Brandee Coffia, Nic’s aunt: “It's very bittersweet because this is a milestone that Nic should have been here for. He should have been here to walk across that stage himself to receive that diploma. It's a milestone that Nic would have been, true to character, very happy to celebrate and would have more than likely brought laughs in the process of accepting his diploma.”
Coffia opened his yearbook after the ceremony and it was full of messages from teachers and classmates.
“It's very easy to lose hope and being here today and seeing the love and support that the students, staff, and parents have for Nic and for the family is really rejuvenating and it helps us to reclaim a little bit of our strength so that we can take the next steps going forward and continue to stay strong and be patient and allow things to work out the way that they need to.”
After the ceremony, Coffia told me she was also able to catch up with Nic’s close friends and other graduates and gave them the advice to continue striving for success and honor Nic by doing the right thing and being kind to others.