Brain-Dead Middle Schooler Jahi McMath Deserves a Diploma if Only for Her Parents

diplomaWe've officially reached graduation season and students everywhere are donning their robes and receiving their degrees. But for one family in Oakland, the occasion is also a bit bittersweet. Jahi McMath was declared brain dead last year at age 13, after suffering from complications during surgery to remove her tonsils. But now, after calling on the school board, the family will be awarded an honorary diploma from Jahi's middle school on graduation day.

She was in the eighth grade at E.C. Reems Academy of Technology and Arts and was on track to graduate at the time of her surgery in December. After the procedure, she went into cardiac arrest, and doctors confirmed that she was unable to breathe and had no blood flow or electrical activity in her brain. Her family has since privately moved her to a ventilator.

But on Friday, she will be a part of her class once again. Her uncle confirmed yesterday that the school's principal will award Jahi's diploma to a family member during the ceremony.

Events like graduations might seem very formulaic, official, and frankly, ceremonial. But they mean so much for parents and families because of what they represent. Celebrating children and students for their accomplishments, and recognizing the family members who helped them get there, is the biggest purpose of a ceremony. Sure, there's all the pomp and circumstance, the after-party, and the stuffy traditional wear, but it's really about commemorating and honoring the kids and what they have accomplished.

They're a reminder that our kids are making a mark in this world, that their efforts in school mean something. As much as they mean for the kids at the event, they mean even more for the parents of kids like Jahi.

At 13 years old, Jahi had almost completed her full elementary education. Honoring her for her achievements and giving the family recognition and support is really the right thing to do.

How do you feel about schools awarding honorary diplomas to kids who didn't complete their schoolwork?


Image via gadgetdude/Flickr



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nonmember avatar sarah

diplomas for middle school and we wonder why kids are so full of themselves these days

SoJaided SoJaided

I think it's nice that the school is giving her family the diploma. But, I also don't think this child should be kept alive like this. I think it's cruel to keep someone that is brain dead alive like this. It robs them of all their dignity and just drags out the families grief. I understand there is nothing harder than losing your child, but does the family honestly believe that this is what the little girl would want for herself or even her family?

lasombrs lasombrs

One of my classmates was struck and killed by a school bus when we were in middle school. We honored him all the way through with our class. He had several pages in our senior year book etc. i dont mind the school giving an award in the case of a death or never being able to compelte like this. Its not like she will be going forward to other things based off the diploma so it doesnt hurt anyone

nonmember avatar lilah

You really shouldn't encourage the family in this way. That girl is no longer alive and silly gestures like this help no one especially her family.

Movie... Moviebuff

I think it takes away from the kids that worked hard and finished their studies to earn it. This girls story is a sad one but I think this is too much.

Jacee... Jacee2348

It's a piece of paper; it takes nothing away from others receiving theirs & it hurts nobody. Get the sticks out of y'all's asses and maybe you'll be less butt-hurt over everything.

00NoW... 00NoWay00

Thank you, Jacee2348. It's just a way of honoring this young woman who lost her life too soon. It's not taking anything away from anyone. And "Sarah" ... they have had 8th grade graduations forever... I had mine well over 20 years ago. It's not really a diploma ... it's a certificate and a celebration of finishing elementary / middle school.

nonmember avatar Mary

Why do we have to continue to her about this fat ass teenager? Guess what there are other parents who have had a child die and they don't parade their dead child in everybody face.

SoJaided SoJaided

Really Mary?! It's one thing to RESPECTFULLY disagree with keeping this girl alive, but to call this little girl names when 1)she is a little girl and 2)has absolutely NO control over what is happening to her is pretty sick and twisted.

nonmember avatar Mary

She was no little girl if she didn't make herself so fat she wouldn't have needed a surgery.

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