High school denies family’s request to honor late teen in graduation

NORTH CAROLINA – A Raleigh High School has refused a family’s request to recognize their daughter, who was tragically killed in a pool accident last September, in its graduation ceremony.

Rachel Rosoff, 17, was a lifeguard at Heritage Point pool when an electrical equipment failure resulted in her being fatally electrocuted while swimming in a pool during Labor Day weekend last year.

At the time of the incident, she was a senior at William G. Enloe High School– also known as “Enloe”– and planned to graduate with the rest of her class on June 14, 2017.

Her family requested that the school acknowledge their daughter during its graduation commencement, but they were told that having a memorial at the ceremony would not be appropriate.

Principal Will Chavis wrote in the email, which Rachel’s mom shared on Facebook:

“Because Graduation is meant to be a ceremony for students’ accomplishments and a celebration thereof, we want to ensure that the ceremony maintains a happy, vibrant feel,” Chavis said. He added that remembering the late teen could cause students to “react in ways that would take trained professionals (i.e. counselors) to support — we cannot ensure that at such an occasion. Consequently, we will not have a memorial at graduation.”

In response to the heartbreaking news, Rachel’s sister, a student at the same high school, took action and launched a petition on change.org, pushing back against the school’s decision.

She wrote in the petition that Rachel ran track and “actively involved at school,” as well as a youth-run charitable organization called Food Ark, which focuses on feeding the less fortunate.

Her sister wrote that Rachel was “looking forward to her senior year and could not wait to graduate and continue the next chapter of her life.”

I am writing this petition because her High school, Enloe, which I too attend, refuses to acknowledge my sister during graduation. They feel it may cause sadness and bring people down on a day that is suppose to be celebratory. They want to pretend she did not exist, which not only hurts me, but my family and her friends. This is so hurtful and wrong. I just want my sister to be recognized and acknowledged for the beautiful, goofy, funny, care free,caring person she was. She lived her life in a way we can all learn from–she was truly exceptional.

A woman claiming to be a former English teacher at Enloe, posted a comment, saying, “Several years students who had died were acknowledged at graduation. This administration should do the same. A sad time…but the honorable and caring act should take place. You cannot protect kids from the inevitable pains of life or death for that matter. This could be the greatest lesson plan this school could carry out. So be a real Eagle and soar to heaven to acknowledge this life that lived.”

The petition has garnered 9,910 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon – only 90 signatures shy of attaining its goal.

H/T: New York Post

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