Community comes together to honor graduation student who passed away

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The North Lamar community came together this week to ensure that a student who died last year would be honored to his so called graduation ceremonies. The family of Kaylee Nicole Starling-Boswell, who was killed in an ATV crash on June 7, 2021, took to social media for help.

According to Kaylee’s aunt, Ashley Hamiltonwe told the family “Nope” several times by the principal of North Lamar High School Mark Keith when they asked for a chair to be placed at graduation ceremonies honoring Kaylee.

“Maybe it’s just a chair, and it’s just that, it’s a chair. That’s okay…but for us, it’s a special memory, it’s cherishing a memory that would have been so much more beautiful if she was actually here, it’s knowing that if she was here with all of us, she would be sitting in that exact chair,” Hamilton said in an email to Keith. “It’s just a little something for us. I also feel like it’s a good reminder to anyone that you need to live your life to the fullest because tomorrow isn’t promised to you.

But, his email fell on deaf ears. It was then that she taken to social media for support.

“Never in my 31 years of life would I have imagined arguing over a chair,” she wrote on Facebook. “Another creepy graduation chair. But, you can bet my sweet girl that I will fight to keep your memory alive, and for what you deserve. A hero deserves nothing less, and if he can’t see it, he’s blind.

Many people responded and the post was shared over 100 times on Hamilton’s Facebook page.

“North Lamar High School needs to do better,” one person said in the comments.

“It’s so sad, I don’t see why anyone wouldn’t do this,” said another.

“This is unacceptable. I have participants in several NL diplomas, including mine, where there were (sometimes several) chairs to honor classmates who had passed,” another person added.

Many people agreed and, along with local news stations – including eExtraNews – the pressure was exerted on the administration of North Lamar.

“We were told his chair would be ‘in the way’ of the students around him and they didn’t want to distract from the other seniors graduating that day,” Hamilton explained. “Insensitive excuse if you ask me, because if she was there, it wouldn’t have bothered me.”

Late Wednesday evening, Hamilton learned he had won and Kaylee would get her chair at graduation.

“We got our daughter a chair,” Hamilton proclaimed online.

Although the family is happy that Kaylee is honored and remembered at graduation ceremonies, they are naturally frustrated that was so hard to succeed.

“It shouldn’t have been a question period,” Hamilton said. “I don’t know where NL got so far off track. I know many children who have passed away and it was done for them, no doubt. If the family wants it, it has to be done. It’s a shame that I had to post on social media and have the community rally behind me to make it happen.

eExtraNews has contacted Keith, Superintendent Launa Doyal’s secretary and Superintendent Kelly Stewart, but has never heard back at the time of publication.

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