Dublin High School honored three students with posthumous diplomas during its graduation ceremony on Thursday last week.
The three students – Michael Urista, Mark Urista and Javier Ramirez – were killed in a car accident on Christmas day in 2019. They would have graduated this June with the class of 2022.
“Since the loss of these three boys in 2019, they have stayed near and dear to the heart of the class of ’22 and the Dublin High community,” said Chip Dehnert, Dublin Unified School District spokesperson. “It was only appropriate to involve them in this evening’s festivities.”
The boys’ memories were honored with three empty chairs in front of the stage, each laid with white roses. Their families were present to receive the diplomas and honor their memories. Ana Reynoso attended the ceremony to honor her sons, twins Michael and Mark.
“Our part was to be present and acknowledging them as if they were there,” Reynoso said of her role in the graduation ceremony. “We were representing them in spirit. We had my son Julian representing Michael and I asked to have my nephew Jared, who survived the crash, represent Mark. Because he is still unable to walk properly, my son Andrew helped him to walk up the stage to receive the diplomas.”
Michael, Mark and Javier were in a car with two other teens when the vehicle crossed a lane and crashed, leaving the two surviving occupants with severe injuries. Since then, the three boys who died have been remembered at various Dublin High functions, including a tree lighting ceremony where all deceased members of the Dublin community were remembered.
Reynoso said she appreciated the school district’s efforts to keep her sons’ memories alive.
“We had immense anxiety,” Reynoso said of her feelings going into the evening. “But I thought ‘they need to be remembered,’ so I mustered up the courage to get up there and do this for them. It’s the least we could do … the principal did an amazing job. I was a little nervous because I had to go through the crowds, but she put it together so well, she took care of it and made us feel extremely special.”
Reynoso and her ex-husband, Andrew Urista, are currently working on other ways to honor their sons. While nothing is finalized, they are discussing several ideas, including a scholarship for driver’s education classes and a college scholarship.
“We are still talking about it, but we don’t know exactly what we are going to do,” Reynoso said. “We are talking about putting it in action. We felt like maybe that was something that needed to happen.”