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Death of a High School Student

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Should there be an empty chair at graduation for a student that has died in high school? Every few years in our small community, a student dies in high school. The students want to honor that student at graduation. Is it appropriate to leave an empty chair where that student would have sat? Our high school has always denied this request wanting the students to focus on their graduation. What do you think is appropriate?

Death of a High School Student

Answered by on -


Thank you for asking your thoughtful question. I think the idea is a magnificent tribute. Death is part of life and what a beautiful way for a student to be remembered. One way to approach this is to ask for a survey from the graduates on the matter. This might be a way to take the guess work out of the issue and the majority can decide if this is appropriate. The survey will teach many valuable elements of life as well.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

Death of a High School Student

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). Death of a High School Student. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 21, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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