LAWRENCEVILLE, Va. -- About a dozen Brunswick High School Class of 2018 graduates met Monday morning -- two days after their high school graduation -- to right what they called a wrong.
Class salutatorian Ahmed Belghith was not allowed to participate in their graduation ceremony Saturday because he arrived late.
"It's kind of unfortunate what happened Saturday, but it's in the past and out of our control," Belghith said at Monday's ceremony at Great Creek Park. "I woke up 20 minutes late, not going to lie to you, but there were some things out of my control that morning. And when I arrived, I still arrived 30 minutes before the [graduation] ceremony started, so all I had to do is walk in, they were still in the room."
Instead, the salutatorian was not allowed to participate in the graduation ceremony.
"Just seeing my son defeated and broken that day, after all of his accomplishments and everything he has done and struggled through and worked through to get to this part, I couldn't just let it go," Ahmed's mother April Hammack said.
That is why Ahmed's friends and family organized a second graduation ceremony. This one, just for him.
"I'm glad that people felt that this was important enough to take out of their day today to come out," an appreciative Ahmed said.
Friends hope seeing Ahmed graduate and hearing his speech will leave a lasting impression on those who learn his story.
"I hope today was an experience and an opportunity for everybody in the community to learn and understand that when a negative situation happens, it doesn't always have to be met with a negative reaction," Jayvonte Elder said.
Before Monday's graduation ceremony took place, Ahmed and his mother met with the high school principal. Both said they held no hard feelings and agree now was the time to build bridges and leave a positive impact.
Ahmed Belghith will attend University of North Carolina Chapel Hill on scholarship next semester.