DUBLIN, Calif. - Dublin High School held its graduation ceremony today and included a special dedication for three of its students who died in a car accident three years ago.
"On Christmas night 2019, Dublin High School Class of 2022 lost three of its own," said Tim Sbranti, Dublin High School Athletic Director and MC of the ceremony.
What should have been graduation day for twins Michael and Mark Urista and Javier Ramirez became a day of acknowledgment and remembrance for those who knew and loved them.
"With their beautiful smiles and fun sense of humor, these three were quick to laugh and had the ability to bring joy," Sbranti said.
Michael, Mark and Javier, all 16 years old, died in a car accident on Foothill Road in Pleasanton. Two other people were also in the car and survived, including the twins’ cousin Jared Reynoso.
Javier’s brother, the twins’ brothers and Jared accepted their diplomas on behalf of their families. Ana Reynoso, Michael and Mark’s mother, says it was a difficult but necessary decision for her to attend Dublin High’s graduation this year.
"Their dad, Andrew Urista, and I had been talking about how difficult it’d be to be present and how heartbreaking it would be. He honestly couldn’t do it. I just felt as though they had to be recognized, and their memory kept alive. As their parents, that’s our job. So mustered up the courage to come," Ana Reynoso said.
Three years ago, hundreds of their classmates paid tribute to the boys during a vigil a few days after the tragic accident.
"Having that portion of them being acknowledged at the beginning of the ceremony was helpful too. I got my tears out of the way, and I was able to present for their friends and the other children that were actually graduating today."
Over 700 Dublin High School students walked across the stage as graduates. Principal Maureen Byrne says remembering the boys was simply the right thing to do for everyone whose lives they touched.
"These kids have experienced a lot of grief, so we wanted to honor the boys and not bring closure, but bring a sense of peace and joy to them and honor who they were," Byrne.
Reynoso says she’s been able to carry on because of her two other children and says she feels like Michael and Mark are still with her.