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Southside seniors graduate while remembering the life of one of their own

Miguel Anaya passed away shortly before he could join his classmates at graduation, but his memory will last a lifetime.

FORT SMITH, Ark. — Miguel Anaya was diagnosed with stage four thymic carcinoma, a rare form of cancer, just eight months ago. Tragically, Anaya passed away earlier this week before he was able to walk across the stage with his classmates during Southside High School’s Friday night graduation. 

It was one of Anaya’s last wishes to receive his diploma. 

School and district officials coordinated with Anaya’s family and made this wish a reality. 

During a small, private ceremony at home, Anaya was presented with his high school diploma. 

“We were able to present him with his diploma, have some pictures taken, spend some time with the family and really honor his time with us,” said Southside High School Principal, Jeff Prewitt. “One of the last things I said to him was, ‘I’m proud of you and once a maverick, always a maverick.’” 

During Friday’s graduation ceremony, the name of Miguel Angel Anaya was called but no one walked across the stage. Instead, the entire senior class and the audience gave a resounding round of applause for their late classmate. 

Prewitt has known Anaya since7th grade and was happy to see the student and young man he became, saying Anaya was eager for the next chapter in his life, like so many other students. 

“We get to see the kids that we’re pouring into every day, grow and mature. I mean, Miguel was no exception to that,” Prewitt said. 

To honor his life and memory, the senior class has purchased a bench that will be installed in Anaya’s memory. The bench will be a constant reminder to future students of his legacy. 

“It’s a monument that’s engraved into Southside for generations to come,” said Victor Nguyen, Southside High School Co-Valedictorian. “Students can always see that bench and be reminded of what it truly means to be a Maverick.” 

Anaya’s family set up a GoFundMe page and you can find that here

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