Summerville High remembers Rachel Reynolds at graduation

SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCIV) -- High school graduation parties took place across the Lowcountry this weekend, but for one school district, the celebrations are bittersweet after cancer claimed the life of a student.

Rachel Reynolds was a senior at Summerville High School when she was diagnosed in January with an advanced form of a rare cancer. She did not live long enough to see her graduation ceremony.

But classmates made sure Reynolds was recognized.

"Don't wait for tomorrow to make the necessary changes in your life. Tomorrow is not promised to you," said Superintendent Joe Pye.

Those were the closing words in his message to Summerville's senior class, a message that hit close to home for the students as they missed one of their own.

Reynolds died a week before she was supposed to walk across the stage.

As graduating seniors walked across the stage to receive their diplomas, students and faculty honored Reynolds by wearing gold ribbon pins, a simple sign of remembrance for a life that ended too soon.

"Rachel Marie Reynolds," her name was called.

At that moment, everyone inside the North Charleston Coliseum stood, applauded, and reflected on the Green Wave family member missing from this important milestone.

"Even though she's not with us physically, I believe that she's still here with us. So to recognize her I think was good for everyone and her family. Gave a little closure. I think it was nice," said Bridget Murtagh, a member of the class of 2014.

"I can't explain my thoughts. I just stood up in memory of her," said Damarius Watts. "All I could think about was her."

"It broke my heart that she couldn't be here with us today. My regrets to her family. But it's a good feeling to know that our school and our city is behind us and they support her family 100 percent," said Breyon Manigault.

School officials awarded Reynolds her diploma in March.

And the South Carolina Legislature passed a resolution commending Reynolds for her courage in battling the cancer.