With tears in her eyes, Jill Soave proudly lifted her son’s diploma and belted out, “Let’s go!”
The heartbroken mother of Justin Shilling, one of the teens killed in a November mass shooting at Oxford High School, walked up on stage Thursday night on behalf of her son in front of a teary-eyed standing ovation at what would’ve been his graduation.
The four Oxford High School students killed in the massacre were honored at the graduation ceremony which Shilling and Madisyn Baldwin were due to attend alongside 414 departing seniors.
Shilling, 17, Baldwin, 17, Tate Myre, 16, and Hana St. Juliana, 14, were gunned down when accused shooter 15-year-old sophomore Ethan Crumbley allegedly opened fire at the school.
Seven others, including a teacher, were left wounded by the horrific attack.
The chilling echo of the Nov. 30 massacre was symbolized by two empty seats left for the two seniors among those slain in the attack.
In an emotional moment during the commencement ceremony, Shilling and Baldwin’s respective families were presented with the teens’ diplomas, graduation cap and gowns, as well as their honor medals in large frames.
Principal Steven Wolf told the crowd Shilling earned enough votes to earn the Oxford Cup — the school’s highest honor for students each year.
“I’m saddened and sorry for all who had to go through the November tragedy, and the loss of our loved ones on that day,” Ken Weaver, superintendent of Oxford Community Schools, said on the podium.
“Our hearts ache and our souls weep at the loss of their lives on Nov. 30. I want to take a moment to acknowledge the absence of Justin and Madisyn.
“These two beautiful children impacted the lives of so many here now and in our community,” he continued. “From the stories I have heard, they were two individuals who made a lasting impact on those around them with love and kindness. I wish I had known them personally.”
Shilling was a scholar, tireless worker with three jobs and a lettered athlete, according to a letter his distraught parents wrote shortly after his tragic death.
“His potential was boundless in life and yet in death he continues to give of himself as an organ donor,” they wrote. “We feel the world can’t have enough of Justin.”
Madisyn was remembered as a “beautiful, smart, sweet” granddaughter in a heartbreaking social media post by her grandmother.
“This beautiful, smart, sweet loving girl was tragically taken from us all today leaving a huge hole in all of our hearts and lives,” Jennifer Graves Mosqueda wrote.
“This horrific day could never have been imagined or planned for,” she added.
Friends said in online tributes that the senior had already been accepted into several colleges, some on a full scholarship.
Addressing the departing seniors on Thursday, senior speaker Kylie Ossege, who spent more than a month hospitalized following the mass shooting, urged her classmates to “push through, overcome, and stand tall.”
“When I think of an Oxford Wildcat, I think of being strong. Being strong means that one is able to withstand great force or pressure,” she said at the commencement ceremony.
“In the past few months, we have all endured a vast amount of pressure. But we have held each other up and supported one another. ‘Oxford Strong’ means to push through, overcome, and stand tall.”
Accused shooter Crumbley is charged with murder and other crimes associated with the shooting.
His parents James and Jennifer Crumbley are facing involuntary manslaughter charges for allegedly buying the 9mm gun their 15-year-old son allegedly used to kill the four teens.
They were denied a motion to reduce their $500,000 bonds by a judge in April.