Abel Lopez died in a car crash last Friday, just days before graduation, but his presence was felt at the ceremony.
Every graduate wore a white ribbon with Abel's name on it, and there was a seat reserved for his cap and gown.
Kerman High School seniors are wearing white ribbons to honor a classmate. 18-year-old Abel Lopez died last Friday after crashing into the back of a farm tractor. There will be a moment of silence to start of the ceremony. ABC30 pic.twitter.com/HMyZ6r5n19— Christina Fan (@ChristinaABC30) June 8, 2018
The loss has hit the city of Kerman extremely hard.
Abel and his classmates had all just returned from a senior trip to Magic Mountain last Friday. Hours later, they heard about the fatal crash that took Abel's life.
"Our whole family was just shocked, as well as me, everyone was. The whole community was just mind blown, how one minute could just change your life," said Gurpal Dhaliwal, a close childhood friend.
Investigators say the 17-year-old rear-ended the back of a farm tractor and died in the collision. He was on his way to pick up his girlfriend to go catch a concert in Fresno.
Dhaliwal reflected on the kindness Abel showed, "Even if you didn't know him, if you were just along with a group and didn't really know him, he would welcome you. He would make you laugh, make you a friend. That's the most sad thing, too. I'm always going to remember him, always."
Monse Lopez carries in her cousin Abel's picture. The crowd erupts in cheers of support for her and her family. The two were support to walk next to each other during graduation. pic.twitter.com/Gn7yLDaK3o— Christina Fan (@ChristinaABC30) June 8, 2018
Tonight's ceremony ended with Abel's family walking across the stage to receive his diploma.
Friends said Abel had a bright future ahead and he was thinking about joining the military
"It gives us motivation to live life to the fullest because that is what Abel would have wanted," said Jaskiret Rai, a Kerman high school senior.