Class of 2019 wears ribbons in remembrance, raise awareness

Alexis Hernandez Silva and Mariam Zahid

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This year’s graduates didn’t want to leave anyone behind when they walked the stage this past Wednesday. To raise awareness about suicide, and more specifically, to honor the late Austin Renshaw, the majority of the graduating class dawned purple ribbons on their green gowns. 

Renshaw was supposed to walk across the stage and receive his diploma alongside his classmates, but on March 7, 2018, Renshaw died by suicide.  

“Most things I do now, I feel are through Austin or the people I’ve lost,” graduate Kaylee Parmentier said. “I feel that now that I have this on me when I graduate that he’ll be there.” 

Several graduates, like Madison Brewer, knew Renshaw from their childhood. Brewer remembers Renshaw from daycare, elementary school, and all the way through high school.  It is because of this that she and her mother had the idea to make and distribute the purple ribbons. 

“What made me come up with this idea was simply the idea of wanting to do something for Austin so it would feel as if he were there with us,” Brewer said.  

Purple is commonly known as the color for suicide awareness.  

“This idea of remembrance is one of the ways we can raise awareness,” Brewer said. “Suicide is something that is consuming our society and I think it’s important to spread that message that no one is alone even when they feel as if they are. I believe that all of these purple ribbons could potentially affect someone positively. 

Renshaw was also remembered by the valedictorianEsmeralda Rodriguez-Menjivar and class speaker, William Grixby. The two each paid tribute to their classmate speeches. They also recognized Cassandra Garcia, another student who should have been walking across the stage with them, who did not die by suicide, but passed away in the spring of 2018 due to a sudden health issue.