La Vergne mom fighting to walk in late son’s place at graduation

Local News

A week and a half from what would’ve been her son’s graduation, a grieving mother fights to walk in her son’s place.  

Jordan Rice’s mother, Zerita, believes in the symbolism behind walking across the stage with the students. LaVergne High School though, hopes to honor Jordan in their own way.  

Nearly six months have passed since Zerita lost her son.  

“Jordan was the love of my life,” she explained. “He was just a cool kid, pretty funny, he was really funny.” 

The LaVergne High student was asthmatic.  

He suffered an attack after watching a football game in the fall, hours before a scheduled doctor’s appointment.  

“Before we knew it, he just passed out on the floor,” Zerita said. “He hung on for about seven days – and we were praying, hoping for the best, and didn’t work out that way.” 

Jordan, an avid member of the school’s ROTC program, hoped to one day join the army.  

Now, mom hopes to walk across the stage in his stead, at LaVergne High’s graduation.  

“My plan is to sit in Jordan’s seat,” said Zerita. “My plan is for them to call Jordan Rice’s name, and for me to walk up that stage, in his cap and gown, and accept his diploma on behalf of him.” 

The school though, has another option. An official with Rutherford County School’s explaining that, on the day of graduation, they have offered: 

On graduation day, Sunday, May 20th, the administration planned to have Jordan’s parents process in with the faculty and staff and sit with them on the floor.  Prior to the seniors receiving their diplomas, the administration planned to have Jordan’s family come up to the stage to receive his diploma, cap and gown, and a gift from the senior class.

Principal Dirk Ash, in an email to Zerita, explained that her wishes were denied “to protect the honor of the graduating class of 2018.” 

Zerita says she’s declined the school’s offer.  

“I do appreciate [the offer], just like I told him,” she added. “I’m just asking to walk because if my son was here, he would be walking, I’m just asking to take his place.” 

If she’s unable to walk, Zerita says unfortunately, she’ll be skipping the ceremony.  

“That’s what makes me upset, that’s the only thing that makes me upset,” she said. “Because i don’t feel like we should be here. I should not be sitting here with you guys right now, pleading to walk across the stage.” 

The school has also offered for Zerita to speak with students, the day before graduation.  

Zerita says if she can’t walk, she’ll consider having another gathering to honor her late son.  

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