It was a bittersweet day in Corsica as students celebrate their graduation today, but there was an empty chair on stage as the seniors remember their classmate Andrea Cleveland, who died in a car crash over two years ago.
Graduation is a day for celebrating and remembering. In Corsica, 18 seniors celebrate their graduation while remembering the one who won't get her diploma.
"She should be graduating with her friends today," Marlene Cleveland said.
In November of 2011, Andrea Cleveland lost control of her car and later died in the hospital. Even though she's gone, her classmates have not forgotten her. The class of 2014 wears purple gowns on stage today, Andrea's favorite color; before the ceremony, they released balloons into the air.
"I think she's going to catch them all, and smiling down on all her friends and thanking them for remembering her," Marlene said.
During the ceremony, the Cleveland family handed out scholarships in Andrea's name to three of her classmates. Jeff Cleveland says it's the least they can do after all the support they've received since their tragic loss.
"Andrea's class, the whole school has been tremendous for us, but Andrea's class has been with us the whole way. They've come over for Andrea's birthday. They've done a lot of things for us and we just want to give back to them today," Jeff Cleveland said.
Andrea wanted to follow in the footsteps of her older sister and become a nurse. She was planning on going to Dakota Wesleyan after school.
Her goal of helping people was reached even after her death. She was an organ donor and her organs saved five lives, including two people that are still close with the family.
"She wanted to save lives, but she did save lives," Marlene said.
The Cleveland family feels like Andrea's memory and impact will continue to soar long after graduation day.
Two recipients of Andrea's organs were planning on helping the Cleveland family hand out the scholarships today, but both were sick and unable to attend.