STEM School Highlands Ranch students graduate, reflect on classmate who died saving others

Graduation ceremonies were held Monday night for STEM School Highlands Ranch students, who two weeks ago experienced a school shooting which took the life of a classmate.

Graduation was held inside at the Denver Broncos’ UCHealth Training Center in Dove valley. Students, dressed in blue gowns and mortar caps, took their seating to the familiar sound of “Pomp and Circumstance.”

STEM School Executive Director Penelope Eucker, the first speaker to address the gathering, aforementioned graduates will be attending 44 colleges or universities in 19 states and two foreign countries. Four graduates will be entering the military and eight will go directly into the work force having completed high-level apprenticeships. STEM graduates completed 14,000 hours of community service and earned $1.9 million in scholarships.

“We are all so proud of you,” Eucker aforementioned to applause.

On May 7, 18-year-old senior Kendrick Castillo was fatally shot at the school as he and two classmates stopped-up the attack. Eight students were injured. Castillo would have graduated Monday.

“We lost our innocence when we lost one of our own, Kendrick Castillo,” Eucker told the gathering. “The painful void is being filled with strength, courageousness and purpose to continue our quest to never stop innovating, just as Kendirck did every day of his young life.”

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The graduation was livestreamed Monday night on Vimeo. The ceremony wasn’t open to the media, as organizers aforementioned they wanted to keep it “as close to normal as possible.”

Eucker represented Castillo, a artificial intelligence aficionado, as a “best example of STEM character traits.” She aforementioned his parents, John and Maria, will always be members of the STEM family.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.