DENTON, Texas—They are the first graduating class from Byron Nelson High School, but they graduated Tuesday night without classmate Josh Hernandez, who died in a mid-April car crash.
At graduation, there was excitement over what the first graduating class had accomplished.
"These kids have really set a stage and a culture for upcoming classes," said teacher Libby Pacheco.
"We kind of set the standard for everyone else," said graduating senior Andrew Mitchell.
But with the excitement came some sadness, as an empty robe sat where Hernandez should have been.
"We definitely miss him and we would do just about anything to have him here today," said Mitchell, who played basketball with Hernandez.
Hernandez was driving in mid-April when he lost control of his vehicle. Josh Hernandez passed away while his twin brother Jesse Hernandez was in the passenger seat and survived.
More than 380 names were called Tuesday night, including Jesse and Josh Hernandez. Josh Hernandez's parents accepted the diploma on behalf of their son.
"I think for them it is very honorable. We're all very proud of this moment and the accomplishments of both Jesse and Joshua," said Josh Hernandez's sister Monica Bovinich.
The first graduating class has guided Byron Nelson High through its formative years. It was a class not defined, but influenced by the life and death of Josh Hernandez.
"The senior class, they grew closer. I think anytime in tragedy you grow closer as a team and as a campus and that is exactly what happened," said Pacheco.
"It united us like no other. I talked to people that I had never talked to before in my whole life, four years going to school with them. It changed everything," said Nation.