Updated at 3 p.m. on June 6: A family member of Luis Mejia Hernandez walked the stage and received a standing ovation from the students, staff and families in attendance at George Mason University’s EagleBank Arena.
Guillermo Romero took took the diploma for his nephew, kissed it and raised it to the sky.
Hernandez was fatally stabbed in the parking lot of the Bradlee Shopping Center on May 24.
Alexandria City Public Schools Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr., said that Hernandez’s life was tragically cut short on by a senseless act of violence.
“We were looking forward to seeing Luis cross the stage today,” Hutchings said.
Hernandez was recognized by ACHS Executive Principal Peter Balas as a hard worker.
“I want to take a moment to ask everyone to hold Luis Hernandez in their thoughts — a Titan who should be here with us today,” Balas told students. “To the Hernandez family, please know that you are forever a part of the Titan family. We are with you now and we always will be. We will hold you in our hearts during this challenging time, and we thank you for entrusting your son to us for his education.”
More than 800 ACHS seniors walked the stage. This is the first graduating class of Alexandria City High School since it changed its name from T.C. Williams High School. It was also the first indoor, in-person graduation for the school in three years.
Balas said that students in this generation are taking their mental health seriously, and that the past few years have been full of traumatic events.
“These past few years have not been normal or usual in any way,” Balas said. “I hope you can look back and remember that you were there for each other, lifting each other up, as you made your way into the world.”
The story and caption incorrectly said that the person who received the diploma was Hernandez’s father. It was a family member.
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