Lee High celebrates, remembers 4 lost friends

Lee High celebrates, remembers 4 lost friends

For local high school seniors, this is the week of endings.

But no more so than one certain group of graduates who've been in our hearts and homes a lot this school year.

There are 6 graduations just this afternoon, including Lee High School.

Lee High's graduation started at 3:30 this afternoon, and just wrapped up moments ago.

It's a senior class of hundreds, a senior class that includes four students who died in a tragic bus accident six months ago.

Their empty seats saved, their names called this afternoon.

We spent the morning at rehearsal with classmates still carrying heavy hearts.

Under the bright lights at the VBC, the Lee High School senior class rehearses, walking through the paces, preparing to take the steps that will take them through the rest of their lives.

"Scale of 1 to 10, how ready are you for graduation?"


Excitement based not only on the past four years, but also on the past six months.

On November 20, 2006, a school bus plunged off an interstate overpass, killing four Lee seniors.

Late May, tattered, faded, and worn, the makeshift memorial still in place, just like the seniors.

A class that overcame the unthinkable, a class that includes Felicia Collier, one of three dozen other bus riders.

Graduation at Lee is an emotional time, with four friends still fresh on the mind.

"I'm just going to be here for them. I feel their spirit around me," says Felicia Collier.

Spirit shared with mom, proud, but hurting, too.

"It's just hard right now because not seeing those babies that were lost in those seats out there, but these kids are doing it for them," says Laura Collier.

Nicole Ford, Taneisha Hill, Christine Collier, and Crystal McCrary, all four names called at graduation.

"On my row there's a seat empty. In front of me there's a seat empty," says Collier.

Emptiness, a feeling impossible to ignore.

"All those girls special in some sort of way. I actually talked to all of them and you don't want them to never be forgotten."

A reminder on a day marked by fulfillment.

The seats, the names are not just for show.

All four women were awarded diplomas posthumously.