Standing in the back of a hot gymnasium packed with hundreds of people, Max Krantz watched as one of the high school graduates walked toward him.
Carrying a single rose, one of the graduates called him by his first name as she smiled, telling him the flower was for him.
They embraced as people around them lifted their cell phones to record or take a snapshot, marking the emotional moment.
During the Charlo High School graduation on Sunday, May 20, Krantz’s son, Brett, was honored, included in a slideshow presentation and mentioned throughout the ceremony.
Brett passed away in July 2015 following a car accident. The sophomore was 15 years old.
The decision to honor Brett has become part of the students’ routine, according to Charlo Principal Bonnie Perry.
“It was the students’ decision. They asked their class advisor” on what would be appropriate and spent time meeting, smoothing out the plans to make it “seamless,” Perry said.
“I think they did a pretty fantastic job,” she added.
Recalling the day she got the phone call that Brett passed away, Perry said that Brett has been remembered during various gatherings, recently with the football team’s Senior Night last fall.
“They’ve (honored Brett) in a way they’ve been able to hold him near and dear to their hearts,” Perry said.
Once the Charlo Class of 2018 was presented to the bleachers of friends and family, graduate Sakoya Gaustad led the class of 23 down a walkway in the center of the gym, carrying Brett’s football jersey.
On their way out, the newly graduated teens stopped and hugged Krantz.
Kicking off the graduation season on Saturday, May 12, was the Home School Academy. On Friday, May 18, two students from Mission Valley Christian Academy, graduated.
Claire Hummel and Lucca Maddy were recognized during the ceremony, during which teachers and administration shared memorable events of the two seniors from throughout the years.
On Saturday, hundreds of people joined together at Two Eagle River to cheer on their graduates.
On Sunday, May 27, Arlee High School seniors will be the next in the county to graduate, at the old school gymnasium at 3 p.m., with Polson and St. Ignatius walking the stage on Sunday, June 2 and Ronan High School on June 3.