CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Graduation is a time to celebrate, for Ray High School graduates, Friday’s ceremony was also a time to remember the lives of their classmates Marcello Saldua and Matthew Garcia.
Garcia and Saldua tragically lost their lives in a car wreck earlier this week.
Saldua’s family was in attendance at the graduation, his cousin Maria Carrejo described him as funny, very outgoing, and a very determined individual.
Another one of his cousins, Faith Galvan, said she grew up with Saldua, she worked with him and attended elementary and middle school together.
The two were very close and Galvin described him as her best friend or even her brother.
Galvan also knew Garcia, she attended school and lived in the same apartment complex as him.
“They’re both funny, goofy like they’re always happy,” she said.
During the ceremony, Ray High School set aside two seats in memory of Saldua and Garcia, but their names were not called out with the other graduates.
The salutatorian and the valedictorian also did not mention them in their speeches.
“We’re really upset that he didn’t get acknowledged here. You know, like I feel like his name still should have been called. You know that’s what we came for,” Carrejo said.
Carrejo spoke with school administrators about the non-mentioning of the names and was told that they did a tribute at the beginning of the ceremony and that it was enough.
"Like that’s not enough. We tried to get his brothers to walk the stage for him,” she said.
“In CCISD, the district honors deceased students by reserving a chair decorated with a white bow, and announcing the names when explaining the significance of the white bow, as was done during the Ray graduation ceremony held this afternoon," CCISD director of communications, Leanne Libby said in a statement.
Saldua’s family is sticking together through tough times, not just for each other, but for Garcia’s family as well.
“We’re here for his family if they need anything,”Carrejo said.
The Saldua family would be spending more time together and looking back on memories they had with Marcello.
Her message to Saldua was, “We love you and we miss you so much.” While Galvan's family message was congratulating him for graduating.