Utah school district walks back decision to exclude student who died of cancer from graduation after severe backlash: ‘She was so close’

A Utah school district reversed its decision Wednesday to exclude a student who succumbed to cancer from her excessive school graduation ceremony — relenting after a firestorm of anger from the neighborhood.

Samantha “Mantha” Corey’s siblings will now be allowed to stroll throughout the stage in place of their sister, who died from rhabdomyosarcoma simply three months earlier than she was set to end her senior 12 months at American Fork High School.

“This is a milestone that we were hoping with her medical team that she could make it to — after she started relapsing, we were really hoping she could make it through graduation,” her mom, Kimberly Corey, advised The Post.

Samantha Corey
Mantha Corey misplaced her two-year battle with cancer simply three months earlier than she was set to stroll the graduation stage. Utah Valley Funeral Home

“So for us, it feels like this goal that we all kind of banded together and accomplished together. She was so close. So close.”

The Alpine School District backpeddled six days after they advised the grieving mom that they reduce her daughter from the ceremony — regardless of Mantha having accomplished all the necessities to graduate.

The 18-year-old “fighter” had battled the uncommon type of cancer, which might develop in any half of the physique, since her sophomore 12 months, however was decided to earn her diploma — which her principal solemnly handed to Kimberly Corey when he broke the information on behalf of the district.

Not solely would they prohibit Mantha’s title from being learn on the podium, however any hint of her could be utterly wiped from the 2023-24 yearbook and yearbook video, the grieving mom mentioned.

Mantha and her family.
Mantha’s youthful siblings Asher and Zoey will settle for her diploma in her place. Family Handout

“Anything that drew attention to her after she passed was not allowed,” Corey mentioned.

The district cited a brand new coverage for the tough decision, which prevented employees and college students from feeling “pressured to participate” in a memorial and that such commemorations ought to ideally happen “within one week of the death,” officers told KUTV.

That’s when Corey turned to her neighborhood for assist — and unintentionally unleashed a firestorm of anger directed on the Alpine School District.

Photo of Mantha near a graduation cap.
District officers initially advised the household it could violate coverage to memorialize Mantha at graduation. @mantha.corey / Instagram

Angry neighborhood members turned up at board assembly to demand a reversal and flooded the district’s social media, together with one consumer who blasted the school for “not only causing her family grief but also not allowing her classmates the opportunity to honor her memory.”

The school neighborhood even brainstormed a small act of protest: the graduates would put on rubber duckie pins on their caps to honor their fallen classmate, who had a love for the waterfowl.

The mounting stress seemingly labored — on Wednesday, district officers introduced they’d make an exception for Mantha.

Mantha in the hospital.
Mantha was a “fighter” who was decided to end excessive school regardless of her analysis and remedy. @mantha.corey / Instagram

“Samantha was loved by her classmates, teachers and school staff. She will be recognized at the school’s graduation ceremony Wednesday, May 22 at the Marriott Center in Provo,” the district mentioned in an announcement.

“We look forward to celebrating the accomplishment of Samantha and all of our other remarkable students who have achieved so much.”

In her place, Mantha’s brother Asher and sister Zoey will cross the stage subsequent week, carrying the cap and robe their older sister had dreamed of donning.

Mantha and the school's football team.
Graduation was a “milestone that we were hoping with her medical team that she could make it to,” grieving mother Kimberly Corey mentioned. Family Handout

For Corey and her household, the decision reversal means the world, even when it took important stress that she isn’t certain Mantha would have been pleased with.

“Even if this wouldn’t have been able to happen where we walk across the stage, she would have just wanted us to take whatever did happen and be positive and make a good outcome of it,” she mentioned.

“I think this is just the icing on the cake that we were able to do this. I don’t think she would want us to fight and yell and get angry. She’s just like a happy, sweet, fly-under-the-radar kind of gal.”

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