Franklin High grads remember Willis

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 18, 2008

FRANKLIN—Eighty-one candidates for graduation marched into the main auditorium of the Paul D. Camp Workforce Development Center to the playing of &uot;Pomp and Circumstance&uot; by the Franklin High School Band on Friday.

After the playing of the national anthem by the band, Mollie Blythe, class president, gave the welcome and introduction of guests. Seth Drewry, president of the Franklin High School Student Council, gave the senior address.

Next on the program a musical selection was given by Maurita Scott and DeAndre Taylor.

Jennifer Sing delivered the valedictory address, and the salutatory address was given by Kylee Ponder. After a poem by Janice Holeman, the Senior Portrait: Class of 2008 (Power Point presentation by Blythe) was shown.

Congratulatory remarks were given by William Pruett, superintendent of schools, as well as Samuel Jones, principal of Franklin High School. After these remarks, Jones, assisted by assistant principals William Lawrence and Karl Robertson, presented diplomas to the anxious candidates.

During the exercises many in the audience may not have noticed that among the seats for candidates one seat was empty. On that seat was a robe and a graduation cap.

This seat would have been for Josh Willis, a well-known and well-loved student and athlete at Franklin High School who died on April 16 at his home before the start of school that day.

After Jones completed reading all names printed on the program, he asked Linda Willis, the mother of Josh, to come to the podium. As she did, everyone in the auditorium rose to their feet and applauded.

Jones stated that he had been encouraged by many of Josh’s classmates to recognize and make a presentation to his mother during the ceremony. Jones presented the cap and gown and a Franklin High School diploma to Willis. Sharing in the presentation was Josh’s older brother Aureallius.

After the declaration of graduation by Jones, graduation caps were seen flying through the air from the excitement of this educational achievement.

Afterward came the happy recessional to the lobby to be greeted and congratulated by relatives and friends.