(CNN) – Graduation day: an unforgettable array of sounds and images. One journey ending… another beginning.
But at Thornton Fractional North High School, it`s a celebration tempered with grief and pain, for a student who’s not crossing the stage this year.
18-year-old Aaron Dunigan was killed Saturday; a front-seat passenger in a car involved in a head-on collision.
“So I say to you tonight, while our hearts are heavy and while we are experiencing death and anguish, it’s still a time to celebrate because when tomorrow comes, you have to live.”
In front of a packed auditorium, Aaron’s mother, in cap and gown, is called up in his place for a special honor, at a ceremony that becomes all about remembering the young scholar, friend and high school quarterback, and the lessons that can be learned from his far-too-early death.
“As we celebrate the hope and possibility that we have here today in front of us, we also have to celebrate the life and experience of Aaron Dunigan.”
“If you are looking for a way to honor Aaron, do it by going out and living life to the fullest; taking advantage of your opportunities and not sitting on the sidelines and watching life pass you by.’
An 18-year-old fellow student, David Peden, is facing several felony charges, including manslaughter and DUI, in the wreck that killed Dunigan. Juan Rivera, the driver of the other car, was also killed. A third student in the teens’ car was also seriously injured.
Copyright 2015 CNN