These were the gifts that Lakewood Academy’s class of 2017 gave to Brandi Calder.
Calder, from Glenwood, lost her son Rorry in a horrific car accident nearly nine years ago. Last week would have been Rorry’s high school graduation.
Although Rorry would never walk across the stage or don a graduating gown, his six classmates were determined to remember their friend and to celebrate with the Calder family.
“It meant a lot that after nine years they still included him in the grad and showed that he took up a big part of their hearts,” said Calder.
The students gave Calder a memorial vase, filled with seven white roses; they were sure to account for an extra rose from Rorry.
“I was overwhelmed by the love they showed Rorry, and me” said Calder.
Students also released seven lanterns, all in purple, Rorry’s favourite colour.
Then came the evening’s most heartfelt moment: the parent-student dance.
Calder headed out to the porch but was quickly pulled back inside.
The music had started and Calder stood watching her son’s classmates celebrating all that was to come.
That’s when one of the students came over and took Calder’s hand, asking for a dance.
All three of the graduating boys danced with her.
“I was just crying my heart out,” said Calder. “They took the time to acknowledge how difficult it all was. The world melted away.”
For Calder, the moment was bittersweet.
“It meant a lot but it was also a little empty because I knew it should have been Rorry there.”
Cathy Rowe, the principal of Lakewood Academy, said the students took the initiative to make the evening special.
“I know I work in the best school on the planet but this reinforced everything I believe about these students. I couldn’t be any more proud of them,” she said.
Rowe commended students for their thoughtfulness and maturity.
Calder said she thinks this graduating class is special.
“I think they’ll carry (this) with them forever,” she said. “It keeps them connected.”
The excitement of Lakewood Academy’s graduation night is over but Calder said she wouldn’t ever forget her gifts from the graduating class of 2017; those mean the world to her.