Melrose graduates cheer classmate

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Melrose School board secretary Taz McAlister hands Jordan Beard her diploma during Saturday’s graduation ceremony at Melrose High School. Beard was in a car accident in August and missed her senior year but the school wanted her with her class at graduation.

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer

The room exploded with hoots, hollers and cheers when Jordan Beard appeared on stage Saturday at Melrose High School’s graduation.

Beard, 18, was in a head-on collision in August and suffered extensive brain trauma.

She lost her right arm from the elbow down. She has been in the hospital since, unable to complete her senior year of high school.

But that didn’t stop the school from allowing her to walk with her class, a group of 21 graduates she’s been friends with since kindergarten.

“The students wanted her here,” Principal Jamie Widner said. “We all wanted her here.”

Dedra Martin said her daughter has had to learn how to do everything over. While her life-long friends were learning calculus, Beard was learning how to swallow and eat.

“She’s very determined,” her mother said. “It’s God that’s led us to where we’re at. We never thought we’d ever get to take her back for graduation.”

Beard beamed a broad smile through the entire ceremony.

“She’s overjoyed,” Martin said. “We’re all Melrose folks. That’s where she’s from. All her class has been here to see her and supported her. It’s a great honor. The school, community, churches, they’ve all supported us the whole way.”

Beard has had a family member by her side at all times at Covenant Medical Center in Lubbock.

Martin said Beard will remain in rehabilitation.

“She’s still the little five foot two spitfire she always was,” Martin said.

Graduate Kelley Wagley, 18, said Beard was friends with the whole group.

“It’s awesome, really awesome,” Wagley said of Beard’s presence. “It’s unbelievable how much progress she’s made. I’m glad to see her so happy.”

Wagley plans to go to cosmetology school and become a makeup artist.

“That’s my dream,” Wagley said.