TAMPA — Jackie Faircloth may not have been able to walk across the stage for her diploma this year, but her classmates saved her a seat during the graduation ceremony.
Faircloth, the Plant High School senior who was hit by a car while visiting her brother at Florida State University in November, would have graduated Wednesday but is still recovering in an Atlanta rehabilitation hospital.
Her fellow seniors wanted to make sure everyone knew that she was missed, and marked her place with a chair decorated in pink and blue ribbons, Plant Principal Rob Nelson said.
“We’ll save that seat for her for the day she finishes,” Nelson said.
He spoke to Jackie’s father recently, he said, and she is doing well. Her family hopes she will be able to come home in the next month or so, Nelson said.
Faircloth was struck by a Ford F-150 truck while crossing a road near FSU the night of Nov. 29. She suffered a severe brain injury, a chest injury, a broken jaw and a broken eardrum, according to Facebook posts by her family. She spent several weeks in a medically induced coma and was moved in December to a facility in Atlanta that specializes in brain injuries.
Last week, Faircloth’s mom, Kathy, posted to Facebook that her daughter had undergone a pair of successful surgeries. In an earlier post, she said Faircloth was moving around a little bit and opening her eyes.
“We are so relieved, happy, blessed and thankful for this day,” Kathy Faircloth wrote on May 20. “Praying for a strong recovery from this surgery and many more positive days ahead. Keep praying Jackie! Thank you as always for your prayers. It really means so much to us.”
Graduation Day for the nearly 600 Plant students who walked across the stage was a happy one, Nelson said.
“It was a little bittersweet because we were minus one,” he said.