BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Graduation is always a time to celebrate, but for Long Beach High School graduating seniors, Friday night’s ceremony was also a time to mourn the loss of their fellow classmate Peyton Henson, who drowned on Thursday while swimming in the Wolf River.
The Long Beach Class of 2019 list of graduates included Peyton Henson. Although tragedy prevented Henson from attending his graduation, his diploma was still handed out to his father who accepted the diploma in his honor.
In the crowd of graduates one of Henson’s close friends Rebecca Favre, although heartbroken, chose to live by advice she received from him.
“He kept saying smile, don’t cry and be cheerful,” Favre said.
Henson’s cap and gown were placed in the seat where he was supposed to sit during the ceremony. The loss was heavy on the minds of many of the graduates.
“He was here yesterday. It’s the day before graduating high school, such a big milestone and it’s just sad, very sad,” said Gatlin Williams, a graduating senior.
Williams first met Henson in the ninth grade, and she said he had a kind heart and a big sense of humor.
“He generally cared for everybody, no matter how they treated him,” Williams said. “He just had this golden heart. He loved everybody, and everybody loved him.”
Henson and a group of his close friends had planned to go night fishing after graduation.
“We’re going to go ahead and keep on going fishing and do it in honor of him,” Favre said.
Now, the Long Beach High School graduates enter the next chapter of their lives, and they do so remembering their classmate.
According to authorities, Henson was pulled under the water of the Wolf River while he was swimming with a friend. His body was found on Thursday following a search that lasted for several hours.