Saturday, January 30, 2016

Joplin High School Won't Hold Empty Chair for Tornado Victim?

Anguished mom wants seat saved for son at graduation
WZZM 13 ABC News
January 30, 2016
"They should at least do something," he said. Williams is now 21 and a member of the U.S. Marine Corps stationed in North Carolina's Camp Lejeune. His unit is expected to deploy soon.
JOPLIN, Mo. — A woman whose son was killed almost five years ago in a monster tornado that struck southwest Missouri wants an empty chair saved for him at what would have been his high school graduation.

Officials at Joplin High School and the school district rejected the request, saying it doesn't comply with their policy. Now Tammy Niederhelman hopes to put pressure on Joplin School District officials through an online petition.

"I'll never see my son graduate. I know that. I'll never see him get married. I'll never hold my grandchildren," Niederhelman said. "This is very important to me — to have a seat for him."

Zachary Zachary Allen Williams was 12 and hadn't finished middle school when he died May 22, 2011, as he huddled in a bathroom of the Niederhelmans' house; 160 other people died that same day.

"No parent should ever have to beg, plead, and fight for their deceased student to be honored with their own seat at graduation and for their name to be called," Niederhelman wrote in her petition, which more than 4,500 people had signed as of Friday. "Zach will not sit in the seat as he should have but he was, is, and always will be a Joplin Eagle Class of 2016."
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