The Day Chelsea Should Have Graduated

By Michelle Wayland
|  Wednesday, Jun 9, 2010  |  Updated 10:31 AM PDT
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At the <a title=Poway High School graduation ceremony, cheers erupt when Chelsea King's name is announced. King, who was murdered in February, was represented at the graduation by her younger brother Tyler." />

At the Poway High School graduation ceremony, cheers erupt when Chelsea King's name is announced. King, who was murdered in February, was represented at the graduation by her younger brother Tyler.

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It was supposed to be the day Chelsea King received her diploma. Instead, walking in her place, was her brother Tyler.

Her peers at Poway High School gave Chelsea a big ovation on Tuesday.

"This class is the most unified class I have seen, and you showed a terrific sense of character," Principal Scott Fisher said. "I saw this class pull together at a time it could have fallen apart."

Chelsea was murdered and raped by John Albert Gardner while going on a jog in Rancho Bernardo Community Park in February.

She was a straight-A student who ran on the cross-country team, played French horn in the San Diego Youth Symphony and was active in her school's peer counseling program.

Chelsea was a tireless volunteer in school and community activities, whether working at a prom for special education students or packaging food for needy families in Africa.

She had applied to 11 colleges and aspired to a career that would combine her interests in writing and the environment. Although her aspirations were cut short, her parents and friends say her light still shines strong.

Veronica Aguirre was also missing at the graduation. She died in a car accident last December. 

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