Susan Matthews might not be able to go to her daughter’s official high school graduation, so her classmates brought graduation to her.
Matthews was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer when her daughter, Claire, was in sixth grade, Claire explained to Montana’s Ravalli Republic. Matthews was a teacher at Claire’s school at the time.
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The Ravalli Republic explains that Matthews is now being treated at the Discovery Care Centre in Hamilton, Mont. Claire told the newspaper that her mom’s condition has worsened and that she might not make it to June, when Hamilton High’s official graduation ceremony will take place. When Matthews opted out of chemotherapy, doctors predicted that she wouldn’t have long to live.
“Even if she were still somehow to be alive in June, she would be completely incapacitated,” her daughter said. “She wouldn’t even know that I was graduating. Time was not on our side.”
So her friend DeeDee Rogers had the idea of staging a mock graduation.
Rogers told the newspaper that her grandmother suggested Claire graduate early, but she didn’t have all of her course credits completed yet. Rogers then came up with the next best thing: an early graduation ceremony held just for Matthews.
“I burst into tears,” Claire told the Ravalli Republic. “I knew how super-important it was for Mom to see me in my cap and gown. I asked her if it would be alright if I came in with them on, but I didn’t realize how big this was going to be. I thought it was just going to be me and a few friends.”
The ceremony, held on Wednesday, ended up being way more than a “few friends,” though — more than 30 seniors took part. In fact, the paper reports that the students actually had to limit who could participate in the mock graduation, based on how many people could fit into the care center. To narrow it down, they went with a sentimental group: the students who’d had Matthews as a teacher in middle school.
“When I started planning this out, I wanted to bring in everyone who has known Claire and had Ms. Matthews in sixth grade,” Rogers told the Ravalli Republic. “We’ve all been in school together for years and we’re really close. I thought it was important that we all share this moment with Claire.”
“It’s always been her goal to see me graduate,” Claire told the newspaper.
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