Faculty and students stand in applause for David Tran as he makes his way to the stage during his graduation ceremony at Mill Creek High School on Thursday. (Photo: Karl L. Moore)
David Tran's Graduation
Mill Creek held a graduation ceremony for David Tran. The Mill Creek senior's father is dying of liver cancer - he has weeks, maybe days to live - and the father's wish is to see David graduate from high school.
HOSCHTON — The idea came about two weeks ago from David Tran’s sister-in-law. And when the faculty and administration at Mill Creek High learned of it, plenty of people joined in to help.
The idea was to give Tony Tran, the father of David, a Mill Creek senior, a chance to watch his son walk across the stage to receive a diploma and graduate, while wearing a cardinal-colored robe adorned with navy and vegas gold. That wish came true on Thursday as Tony Tran, 69, a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War, who has battled liver cancer for two and a half years, watched and smiled.
“I’m very happy,” he said with a wide grin. “All my family is very happy.”
About a month ago, doctors gave Tony Tran a prognosis of about a month to two months to live, and he is returning to Boston for treatment at the Veterans Affairs hospital there.
The event was witnessed by a large crowd of students, teachers, administrators and staff that filled the school’s theater.
The decision to organize the event was easy for Mill Creek Principal Jason Lane and counselor Kelley Griffin, who learned of the idea from David’s sister-in-law, Kim Tran.
“If we had a chance to help a student create a memory, have this kind of impact, we were all for it,” Lane said. “He’s a very popular kid … but also the faculty respects him, and when something like this spreads for a kid like David, they want to be a part of it.”
Griffin called him a very humble student who has a lot of friends and does what he can for everyone.
“This was one of those things that we could help a little bit with,” she said. “It’s nice to be able to do something like this for a family. It ended up being a larger ceremony than we originally thought, which just shows what a great guy David is. That speaks a testament to the student David is, and all the friends and support he has.”
In the program’s closing remarks, David’s best friend, Eric Ritland spoke directly to Tony and David.
“You should be very proud of the man your son has become,” Ritland said. “Congratulations to you, David. Everyone is proud of the man you have become.”
A four-year member of the Mill Creek football team, David figured the ceremony would have the football players, and a few other people. But the theater was filled to near capacity.
Throughout the cancer battle, David said he saw his father’s strength. Tony was a special trooper working with the United States during the Vietnam War. He moved to the U.S. in 1991.
David said his father’s cancer battle has put things into perspective, such as how small his problems are, and that family matters.
“I’ve always seen him as a strong father. It kind of hit me to see him deteriorate like that,” David said. It really showed me that my Dad is special. Things happen, but you’ve just got to tough it out.”
In a weakened state, Tony sat throughout the event, except to take pictures, and was helped out of the school by his family. But all along the way he smiled, and thanked school officials for organizing it.
“It’s a dream come true,” Kim said.