Better late than never [Editorial]

Rocceon M. Harrison missed one of the most important days in his life — high school graduation.

Instead of walking across the stage to get his diploma at Edgewood High, he walked into a police station to answer to criminal charges filed against him, even though he knew he wasn’t guilty.

“You’re just going to have to go through it,” Harrison recalled his grandmother telling him.

It was a mature move on Harrison’s part, a day his childhood ended and adulthood began, in more ways than one.

Harrison was wanted on charges of first- and second-degree assault and use of a firearm in a felony violent crime in connection with a non-fatal shooting in Edgewood in April.

The charges were dropped in November. Besides having an “uncooperative” victim, the state determined Harrison had a valid alibi for the night of the shooting — he was with his grandmother in Perryman.

Friends and family tried to recreate Harrison’s high school graduation so he would at least have some recognition of his achievement and on Dec. 17 held a small ceremony at the Edgewood Boys and Girls Club, where his church, More Conquerors Worship Center, holds services.

The Rev. Derren A. Thompson, pastor of More than Conquerors Worship Center, who is a doctoral degree student, wore academic robes. Harrison, who wore a red cap and gown, gave his own graduation speech.Three generations of Harrison’s family attended Sunday’s ceremony, including his mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, and school board members Jansen Robinson and Al Williamson.

The graduation didn’t have all the pomp and circumstance of a typical high school graduation, but it was OK with Harrison.

“It was real good,” Harrison said of the ceremony. “I just thank them for even doing that.”

Since the charges were dropped, Harrison has written songs about his experience — “My Story” and “Neglect.” He plans to move to Florida in a few months for a job and says he’s “walking on a good path now.”

Nothing could make up for not graduating with his classmates, but the small gesture of having an intimate graduation ceremony was enough to make Harrison feel special.

It was a kind effort on behalf of the pastor, Harrison’s family and the school board members who attended to recognize a milestone that is so significant.

It help put Harrison on the “good path” he’s on. Here’s to hoping he continues to follow it.

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