District to allow Utah family to walk in graduation for daughter who died of cancer

Samantha Corey’s siblings will don their sister’s cap and gown and accept her diploma at graduation next week, after the Alpine School District decided they could walk on her behalf.
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Posted at 12:26 PM, May 15, 2024

After enormous public outcry, the Alpine School District has reversed a policy that would have stopped an American Fork, Utah, family from walking at graduation in place of their daughter who recently died.

Samantha Corey passed away from a rare cancer in January, months away from graduating during her senior year at American Fork High School.

The Corey family had hoped to have Samantha's siblings wear their sister's cap and gown during next week's graduation ceremonies and accept her diploma.

However, the school district warned the family that they would not be allowed to walk on Samantha's behalf, saying ceremony plans "reflect our sincere desire to appropriately balance the need to remember those who have passed and the opportunity to celebrate the accomplishment of all graduates."

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On Wednesday, days after denying the Corey family a chance to honor their daughter and sister, Superintendent Shane Farnsworth with the Alpine School District reversed his decision.

In a message to Millie's Princess Foundation, a Utah-based childhood cancer organization, Farnsworth said the district had granted an exception based on a request from American Fork High School principal Peter Glahn, allowing the Coreys to walk at graduation.

The district released a statement Wednesday acknowledging the reversal and the procedure used by Glahn to ask for an exception.

"Samantha was loved by her classmates, teachers, and school staff. She will be recognized at the school’s graduation ceremony," the district said. "We look forward to celebrating the accomplishment of Samantha and all of our other remarkable students who have achieved so much."

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American Fork Mayor Brad Frost will have Samantha’s name read at the City Council meeting on May 28 so community members can have a small ceremony for her, Corey said.

“You have this entire school and graduating class of kiddos that have been with her for years and watched her decline and supported her and loved her and have been mourning along with us," she said.

This story was originally published by Jeff Tavss at Scripps News Salt Lake City.