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Grieving mother wins fight to have daughter's name read at graduation after deadly crash

Annamaria Morales was killed in a horrific crash six months shy of her high school graduation.

ROSENBERG, Texas — Note: This story has been updated with a statement from Lamar Consolidated ISD below.

A grieving mother's fight to hear her daughter's name announced at graduation is over.

Late this afternoon, Stephanie Mendoza received a phone call from the Lamar Consolidated Independent School District's superintendent.

"As a grieving mother how am I supposed to feel when my baby's name is skipped," said Stephanie Mendoza, Annamaria Morales' mother. "I couldn't take no for an answer."

For the Mendoza family, there hasn't been much laughter lately, but at least for the moment, they're celebrating a moral victory.

"Feels a little accomplished today because I did this for my baby," said Mendoza. "I thought it was not going to go down like this. I thought she was not going to be recognized and that just made me so sad. Even more devastated."

Annamaria Morales was killed in a horrific crash six months shy of her high school graduation.

"She was everything. Every good trait you could ever think of she had," said Emmalina Mendoza, Annamaria's little sister. "That's who she was. She was the best person ever."

As they gripped each other's hands, Stephanie shared why this mom moment meant so much to her.

"Things have already been taken away from her and I didn't want this to be one more thing that was taken away from her," said Stephanie.

Morales will be recognized at B.F. Terry's High School graduation after all. An empty chair will be draped with a cap and gown in her honor. Annamaria's name will be announced as well. Emmalina is going up on stage to accept a certificate.

"Losing a student is always tough for a school community," LCISD spokesperson Sonya Cole-Hamilton said in a statement. "Friends, teachers, and of course the family, hurt and grieve such a tragedy."

"In the unfortunate instance where a student has died, Lamar CISD has standardized how we honor a student at their graduation," Cole-Hamilton said. "Traditionally, we place a chair in the audience among the classmates with the student’s cap and gown. Additionally, we are allowing the campus principal to add special acknowledgments (such as calling the student’s name or having a moment of silence) during his allotted speech. And, we will have the student’s name included in the program."

"It's an honor for her, but it's so sad because she was supposed to be doing it," said Emmalina. "She was supposed to be walking across the stage doing it herself. And she's not able to go..."

"As you may be aware, Lamar CISD has a new Superintendent, Dr. Roosevelt Nivens, who is wrapping up his first year with the district," Cole-Hamilton said. "With new leadership, there is the opportunity to revisit past practices, so while the parent may have been told something contrary, it may have been because someone was unaware of the update."

The graduation will be held Saturday at Traylor Stadium in Rosenberg at 8 p.m.

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