A chair was left empty during Coupeville High School’s graduation ceremony June 11 in honor of a student who did not make it to commencement, but who will always hold a place in his classmates’ hearts.
Bennett Boyles, who passed away in April 2017 after a battle with brain cancer, would have been one of 55 graduating seniors who received a diploma in Coupeville this weekend. Flowers were left on the seat he would have occupied during the ceremony.
Graduates Hawthorne Wolfe and Caleb Meyer took a few minutes to speak about Boyles and honor his family. Wolfe said that shared grief over Boyles’ passing brought the class of 2022 together and helped them remember to cherish every moment they have with their loved ones.
“Whatever you do post-graduation, enjoy it, and don’t take it for granted. That’s what Bennett would want,” Wolfe said.
The graduating seniors knew other hardships during their school years, as well, including the COVID-19 pandemic, which ate up much of their time in high school. Coupeville Superintendent Steve King said despite the struggles presented by online classes, canceled activities and ever-changing school guidelines, the students remained resilient, and he never heard them complain.
“I wanted to recognize how much these kids pushed through, how much they gave up and how much they sacrificed on behalf of public health,” King said.