Oxford High School seniors receive diplomas at Pine Knob; survivor gives commencement

The Pine Knob Music Theatre had a lot of seats filled Thursday night - but two spots were notably empty during Oxford High School's graduation ceremony. 

They were for Justin Shilling and Madisyn Baldwin, two seniors that were killed following the mass shooting at the school last year. 

It was one of several points of symbolism in place during the honoring ceremony and a tiny tribute to the victims that had to brave a tough year of school following the tragic act of gun violence.

"When I think of an Oxford Wildcat, I think of being resilient. Resilience is the ability to withstand and recover quickly," said Kylie Ossege, speaking from the podium. "Despite the challenges given to us this year, we took back our school."

Ossege graduated with cum laude honors and was the senior speaker at the ceremony.

She was one of seven people wounded in the shooting and spent months in the hospital recovering. 

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Also speaking Thursday night was Thomas Donnelly Jr., the school board president. 

"Who you are and how you are became as important as what you do. Things like being principled, caring, communicators," he told the seniors.