Group of students create petition to honor deceased class member

Elizabeth Alexander, Trending Editor

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One of the quietest days in Manhattan High School settled on April 28, 2017, after then-junior Elaina Lagabed died of suicide. This is a day that MHS classes 2017-2020 have yet to forget. In an attempt to honor the memory of Lagabed, a group of senior girls at MHS have started up a petition.

“We want to honor [Elaina] at graduation,” said senior Lauren Race. “We also want to have a chair with her name on it, and when they do say her name, we were thinking of having a moment of silence for her.”

Lagabed was a originally a part of the 2018 graduating class, but had plans to graduate early. With her death being so sudden, there was very little time to honor her in such a way during the 2017 graduation, so this year, the class of 2018 — many students in the said class having been friends with Lagabed —  want to take the chance.

“We’ve just been going around and asking [students] and teachers Elaina had in the past,” said Race. “We have them sign it and see if they agree with everything, and the majority of the people have been pretty optimistic about it, asking why we need a petition and that we shouldn’t even need one because it’s a respectful thing for the family.”

The petition itself states; “In Remembrance of Elaina LaGabed, Class of 2018. We want to honor her at graduation with a moment of silence and a chair with her name on it.” The group wishes to commence the moment of silence when Lagabed’s name is announced out of respect for her and the family.

However, accomplishing this has been a struggle, which brought the petition to life.

“[Administration] told us that we needed to focus on the now, focus on graduation rather than focus on the past,” senior Kelsey Warner said. “We thought the petition and trying to get the chair and moment of silence would be the least the school could do, especially when Elaina had been experiencing a lot of bullying before she passed away.”

The group has been attempting to get their word out to the school body by passing around several copies of the petition around the school, and the feedback has overall been positive.

“[Students] have been actually really supportive and nice about it, which was really unexpected,” Warner said. “A lot of the students didn’t really know Elaina or were friends with her.”

Despite people’s lack of relationship with Lagabed before her passing, students have been sympathetic when it came to signing the petition — which now has over 200 signatures — and honoring her at graduation. Graduation will be taking place at 2 p.m. on May 20 at Bramlage Coliseum.

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Group of students create petition to honor deceased class member