MOUNTAIN VIEW, Ark. (KTHV) -- Saturday, May 13, the Mountain View High School held it's graduation ceremony. Two empty chairs were placed near the stage.
Both of the chairs were cloaked in graduation robes. In the chairs a graduation cap, white rose, and a framed picture sat in place of a student. Each chair represented a student that died before being able to graduate.
Mountain View High School current and former students were touched by this gesture.
“When I saw that they had honored her I cried tears of joy because she would have loved it. I know she was looking down smiling at them all,” said former Mountain View student Chyann Odum.
"I almost cried when I saw the chairs at graduation," said Mountain View High School student Olivia Callahan. "Many of the students were friends with both girls."
Placing the chairs out in honor of the girls was an idea that some of the seniors came up with.
"We all thought it was a great idea. When we sat up for graduation we had two empty chairs in the back row. That didn't seem to recognize them the way we wanted so the sponsors decided to put the chairs in front of the stage," said teacher and senior class sponsor Pam Smith.
Jessica Easley died October 13, 2009. A day before her 11th birthday. Easley had been diagnosed with Aveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma, a type of cancer, on March 10, 2006.
People who knew Easley said she was a beautiful, strong, brave girl.
"What I remember most about Jessica is her tender heart," said Mountain View graduate, Savannah Sartin. "She was always so sweet and kept her hope in the foreground."
Fairfield Bay Police Department Patrolman Donald Crispell first met Easley in the hospital. Easley made such an impression on him that he gave her his first police badge.
"She was so caring, and willing to fight. She never wanted to give up. She was such a strong girl," Crispell said.
Callie Bauerlein died January 11, 2013 in a house fire along with her mother, father, and younger sister. She was 14 years old. Bauerlein was a member of the Mountain View Middle School Band. Her mother was a teacher at the high school.
"Callie was a sweet, vibrant young girl," said Smith, whose son was a friend of Callie's.
Callahan also agreed that Callie was sweet and mentioned that Callie helped her in band.
The Mountain View High School and Middle School band joined together to play "A Childhood Hymn" based on "Jesus Loves Me" at the band concert in 2013 to honor Callie. They left a chair empty in honor of her. At the 2017 concert, days before graduation, they did it again. However this time would be the last.
"We decided to honor her at the concert by leaving her chair with a flute and a picture of her in it. We decided to retire the tune so that it would forever remain 'her song'. I never had the pleasure of meeting the young lady, but it was obvious that she left an impact on her band mates," said Mountain View Band Director Blake Henley, who took over the band program in 2015.
While the girls were not mentioned during the graduation ceremony, they were mentioned in the closing prayer by Wyatt Luchtenburg, who graduated with honors.
"This moment was to make our loved ones proud. Our family and friends on Earth and in Heaven, even Jessica and Callie, who didn't make it this far with us," Luchtenburg said.
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