North Carolina high school student Rachel Rosoff, 17, was killed last September when she was electrocuted and drowned at the pool where she worked as a lifeguard.
Now, her family and friends are fighting to have her memory honoured during the graduation ceremony she was meant to be a part of at William G. Enloe Magnet High School.
Rachel’s high school is refusing to acknowledge her death at her class’ graduation ceremony. Post continues after video.
According to a petition started by Rachel’s sister, Jordana, the school believes honouring her memory will “cause sadness and bring people down on a day that is suppose to be celebratory”.
"Rachel was a part of the Enloe Family and was looking forward to her senior year and could not wait to graduate and continue the next chapter of her life," her sister wote.
"[The high school] want to pretend she did not exist, which not only hurts me, but my family and her friends. This is so hurtful and wrong.
"I just want my sister to be recognised and acknowledged for the beautiful, goofy, funny, carefree, caring person she was."
Rachel's mother, Michelle, told BuzzFeed News the family aren't looking for any memorial to be focused on the way that she died. Instead, they want to focus on the promising student's life.
In an email written to Michelle about the matter, the school's principal said they were refraining from any type of memorial at the graduation so the ceremony would maintain a "happy, vibrant feel".
"Thank you for advocating for Rachel and her memory...this season must be especially difficult for you and your family," the email reads.
"Because Graduation is meant to be a ceremony for students' accomplishments and a celebration thereof, we want to ensure that the ceremony maintains a happy, vibrant feel.
"A memorial of a lost/loved one has potential to cause students (or others) to react in ways that would take trained professionals (i.e. counselors) to support."
Rachel's friends disagree with the principal's argument.
"I think we are old enough to be okay and understand what is going on," friend Alissa Brasington told WRAL News.
"I think we'll be okay if they mention her. It will actually be better than if they don't mention her."
Rachel's best friend, Victoria Ward, said the bigger sadness would be not including her friend's memory in the graduation ceremony at all.
"She should be there with us," she told ABC 11.