The Episcopal School of Jacksonville graduated its 133 seniors Saturday without its long-time leader.
In March, Dale Regan was shot and killed by Shane Schumerth, a Spanish teacher at the school. Schumerth then committed suicide.
Regan, 63, had been at the school since 1978. The commencement ceremony was dedicated to her.
IMAGES: Episcopal commencement
"It's just really surreal. It's like you didn't know what to feel but you just knew she was always there with you," said Sam Homra, a graduate.
"She was included in our valedictorian's speech and the opening prayer and her name is on all our diplomas. They're handed out in memory of her," said Kaley Webb, a graduate.
Many of the students had been going to school under Regan since their elementary years. They described her as a friend.
"It's gonna be really difficult. She's played such a big role in my life," said Homra.
"We're sad but we're getting on and we know that she's here so it's not bittersweet because she's not gone," said Jacqueline Sutton, a graduate.
"It's a really special time for us, as hard as it was. We all know she's up there watching over us. All this was in her memory and it's a special day," said Webb.
Regan's family set up a charity memorial fund in her honor.
Send donations to:
Dale D. Regan Memorial Fund, in care of the Episcopal School of Jacksonville's Advancement Office
4455 Atlantic Blvd.
Jacksonville, FL 32207