GREENVILLE - Greenville City Schools held their graduation ceremonies Saturday evening at Harmon Field; at the back were two chairs, filled not with students, but their caps, gowns, and photos, in memory of the two high school students who lost their lives in a fatal crash in October of 2012. Austin and Justice Meade were cousins who were the best of friends.
As each graduating senior took his or her seat, a blue or red carnation was placed on each chair, said Ken Neff, Greenville Sr. High School principal. It was no different than what they’ve done in the past to honor the memory of students who didn’t make it to graduation, Neff stated, but to the boys’ families, it meant the world.
“There aren’t words to say how much it means that the school and my son’s classmates are remembering him,” said Amy Shell, Austin Meade’s mother. “…How many people care about and love him. He was always smiling, and if someone was sad, he always cheered them up. He’s a special person. I’m sure he and Justice are up to no good.”
Austin’s brother Kyeran Meade participated in graduation early to be able to share this memory; also participating were Justice’s brother, Devin Meade, and cousins Madison Meade and Tiona Thompson, Neff stated.
“It’s nothing huge, but it’s that kind of day - names are read, honors listed, but it’s a subtle thing,” Neff commented. “Every student will get the chance to recognize their classmates who didn’t make it to graduation.”
Brad Meade and Jenni Warner, Justice’s parents, said they were pleased with what the school did to keep the boys’ memory alive during these rites of passage. They also wanted to congratulate the Class of 2014.
“It means the world to me that [the boys] won’t be forgotten,” Austin’s mother, Amy, shared. “It makes me feel good that he is in so many people’s hearts. I’m glad we have a school that cares about the students…I know he’s looking down, smiling!”