Teenage Girl Who Died From Rare Cancer Not Honored at Graduation: Family

A Missouri family said they were shocked and disappointed to find that their 14-year-old daughter, who recently died of cancer, was not honored at the school's graduation ceremony.

I made a promise to her before she passed away that I wouldn't let anyone forget her. I was expecting them to honor her with a moment of silence, a picture of her, a reserved seat, something in her honor, something to acknowledge the fact that she had been a student here for over seven years.
Lindsey Patton, Kaitlyn's Mother

The mother of Kaitlyn Atrip told local media station Fox 2 on Monday that her daughter's name was not mentioned during an eighth-grade graduation ceremony at Crystal City Junior High on May 18. Atrip died from stage 4 rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of childhood cancer that affects muscle tissue, just three weeks before the ceremony took place.

"Kaitlyn should have been there," her mom, Lindsey Patton, told Fox 2. "I made a promise to her before she passed away that I wouldn't let anyone forget her. I was expecting them to honor her with a moment of silence, a picture of her, a reserved seat, something in her honor, something to acknowledge the fact that she had been a student here for over seven years," she continued.

In response, Patton told Fox 2 that a group of family and friends decided to write chalk messages outside of the school for Kaitlyn.

Missouri Graduation
A Missouri family said they were shocked when their 14-year-old daughter, who died of cancer, was not mentioned during school graduation. Here, a representational images shows students throwing their graduation caps in the air. Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

The messages read, "Congratulations, Kaitlyn. We're proud of you. You did it," according to the news outlet.

However, school officials later "scolded" the family for writing the messages without permission, according to Patton.

A day later, she said that the school power-washed the chalk away and took down balloons left in Kaitlyn's honor.

"You can't wash away her memory. You can make us wash off this chalk, but you can't just wash her away like that," Patton told the media outlet.

In a statement to Fox 2, Superintendent Matt Holdinghausen did not name Kaitlyn directly, but responded in a statement by saying that "students and staff have lost a friend and a caring individual who will never be forgotten."

...Our teachers and staff are also here to support all those that are hurting because of the loss of their friend. May our community be encouraged to support each other and the family during this time.
Statement from Holdinghausen

"The loss of a child is always a tragedy and can never be measured and our thoughts and prayers are with the family. Our school community retains counselors on staff to be of assistance to any student that would like to talk and grieve. Our teachers and staff are also here to support all those that are hurting because of the loss of their friend. May our community be encouraged to support each other and the family during this time," Holdinghausen added.

Several local businesses recently gathered to honor Kaitlyn by putting up their own signs and balloons and allowing friends and family to re-write the chalk messages.

"We had signs here, and our signs had pictures of Kate. And we had it say, 'We will not forget you, Kate,'" Katy Lewis, the owner of Vivian James American Beauty told Fox 2. "That's not what our town is about," she added. "We will never let anyone go that way."

Newsweek contacted the Crystal City school district for additional comment.