Mount Vernon Principal Performs Graduation In Hospital Room

  • 5/24/2019 4:31:54 PM
  • Jenna Ramolt
  • Local News

MOUNT VERNON, OH - When recent high school graduate Emily French found out her dad had only a short time left to live, she knew she couldn't say goodbye without her dad seeing her graduate.

Jeff French struggled with his health for many years. A long-time diagnosed diabetic with 23 stents in his heart, his condition began to worsen significantly in early 2019. The avid outdoorsman suffered a stroke that left him completely paralyzed on his left side, and his heart and kidneys began to fail. When Jeff's doctors told the French family that he may only have weeks or even days left to live, his loved ones just tried to make him comfortable. They all said their goodbyes, but Emily didn't feel right letting her dad go without witnessing her graduation.

"My dad had told me that he couldn't believe he was going to miss my graduation... I'm his little girl, he didn't want to go without that," Emily said. She had struggled with school for a long time before her dad finally helped her find the online track that she excelled in. She worked hard enough to graduate early and wanted her dad to see it- which is why Emily's boyfriend brought up the idea of taking graduation to Jeff.

Emily spoke with Scott Will, the Principal of Mount Vernon High School, and they set a plan. On May 13th, 2019, Emily donned her cap and gown and visited her father in the hospital. Jeff's family piled gifts and cards on the table next to a graduation cake, and Principal Will was able to read Emily's full name and hand her a high school diploma in her father's presence.

"To see her afterwards with her dad and him being able to have that diploma by him just was a pretty powerful thing," Will said. "Just to see some of the smiles and the congratulations and them being able to celebrate that together, I think that's the feeling that you got by being in that room."

In addition to her own community rallying around her, Emily has been getting a big reaction online. Strangers from across the country have seen these photos and reached out to let Emily know that she and her family are not alone.

"It's amazing how quickly this became something I never thought it would," Emily said, recalling all of the positive reactions she has received that are full of love and sympathy.

Jeff passed away on Friday, May 24th, 2019. He will be buried at Foxfield Preserve in Wilmot, Ohio. When he heard about Emily's interview, he asked to make sure that he was quoted as saying "I'm so proud of her."


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