Just half an hour before he was set to receive his high school diploma, Alexander Ward's father passed away, according to a Facebook post from Peoria Unified School District.
But the Ironwood High School senior wouldn't miss out altogether on the opportunity to walk in a graduation ceremony.
The school gathered more than 200 graduates and teachers, along with the family and friends of Ward, to celebrate his accomplishment on Friday.
The function was a basic reenactment of the previous night's ceremony, with fellow graduates in attendance wearing caps and gowns. Ward was also formally presented his diploma by the school principal Vance Setka recommending approval of Ward's receipt of diploma to the Peoria Unified School District president, who formally approves Ward on behalf of the district's board of governors.
The room where the ceremony takes place erupts with applause at the presentation, as handshakes and hugs are given between Ward and the ceremony officiants.