INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - "She was such a beautiful soul," said Kendra Lloyd.
Lloyd's youngest daughter, Kamryn Grace Cruite, would have turned 18 this weekend.
Lloyd remembered her daughter as a fearless young woman who refused to be defined by her intellectual disability.
"She would always say 'I just want to be normal, my disability is not that bad.' I'm just like, 'No, you just learn differently, Kamryn.'
She was excited about her future, Lloyd said.
That future was cut short last fall, when Kamryn, a senior at North Central High School, suffered a seizure and died unexpectedly.
"It was just a terrible, terrible loss and I struggle with it daily," Lloyd admitted.
The pain has not been made any easier as the date of what would have been Kamryn's high school graduation gets closer.
"She was not going to get a traditional diploma, she was going to get a certificate of completion," Lloyd said, adding she still wants to receive that certificate at the upcoming graduation ceremony.
"I wanted an empty chair where Kamryn would have sat in the rotation of graduates, with a rose, and I wanted to walk across the stage and receive her certificate of completion," Lloyd said.
The district has declined Lloyd's request. They issued this statement:
"Kamryn Cruite was a loved student and a special part of the North Central family. Commencement procedures and practices have a long history of consistency at North Central High School. As shared by administration recently, our practice as to how the school acknowledges our deceased students during commencement ceremonies, is to include the deceased student's name in the program and have candles on stage in respect and acknowledgement for the students who have been lost over the 4 years of the cohort. We do not have individual acknowledgements during the ceremony for students. However, we do provide a private event at North Central High School involving the family, administrators, counselors and impacted available teachers. During this individual meeting certificates and/or diplomas are presented to the family and meaningful time is had to reflect on the student. In the class of 2019, we have lost two students. Both families will have the opportunity to have individual presentations, commiseration and the opportunity to celebrate their child and our student."
Lloyd said it's so much bigger than just receiving a piece of paper. It's about celebrating Kamryn's hard work, despite challenges that sometimes left her child feeling overlooked. Lloyd said she's not about to let that happen.
"I just want her name to be said," said Lloyd. "Especially with her being special needs. I want her included. Don't forget my child. Don't leave my child out."