Barbara and Eddy Conklin were filled with a mix of emotions after receiving the honorary diploma for their son who died in February of this year in a rollover car crash on Bridgeport Ave.
Edmund Conklin, 17, was the starting center for the Shelton High School’s basketball team and was a lover of video games.
The crowd of nearly 400 graduates, hundreds of family members and friends erupted in applause and cheers when “Eddy Conklin” and “Kristjan Ndoj” names were read during the graduation ceremony. Both of the students had white roses placed in their assigned seats.
Mrs. Conklin said she finally received the closure she had been searching for since the crash.
“We’re relieved… It was wonderful to hear his name called. We were waiting to hear his name and were told it would be called after several of his friend’s names were called. We waited and waited and finally we heard it.”
Mr. Conklin said hearing his son’s name during the ceremony was bittersweet.
“I really wish he was walking across the stage,” said Mr. Conklin while looking at the diploma that was awarded to the family following the ceremony by Superintendent of Shelton Schools Dr. Chris Clouet.
Mr. Conklin added that he knows the ceremony wasn’t for his son but he is appreciative they were able to hear their son’s name called.
Following the ceremony, the Conklin family celebrated their nephew’s graduation and congratulated their son’s friends who had just crossed the stage.
“The ceremony was beautiful and dignifying. We took photos of all of Eddy’s friends crossing the stage,” said Mrs. Conklin.
“It was perfect, it was exactly how Eddy would have wanted it,” said Mr. Conklin.
Dr. Clouet said he was happy with how the ceremony was conducted.
“The turnout was fantastic and it was a beautiful night,” said Dr. Clouet. “It was a dignified ceremony that honored our graduates and respected the students who are deceased.”
After presenting the family with the diploma, Dr. Clouet said he expressed his sorrows and they shared a moment of genuine connection. He also said he looks forward to continuing his work in the school district and his efforts towards making sure the students have what they need to keep up with the constant changes in the evolving education system.
Board of Education Chairman Mark Holden said the ceremony was a great ending to a great year. He also mentioned there would be further discussion on how the Board of Ed. will handle posthumous diplomas in the future.
The board is in favor of posthumous diplomas for students who didn’t meet all requirements for graduation and he expects that to continue, according to Holden.
At this point in time, the board says they will handle posthumous diplomas based on whether the student completed their requirements or not. Holden said the board will continue its process of finalizing a policy into the Fall.