LOS ANGELES - It was happening again. The family of a Saugus High student was left grieving over the loss of a loved one to gun violence.
This time the young person in pain was Joslyn Carlon, whose father a firefighter, was shot to death by a fellow fireman at Fire Station 81 in Agua Dulce.
The fatal workplace shooting was Tuesday. A mere two days, later Joslyn graduated high school surrounded by hundreds of firefighters who stood in for her late father, Tory.
They stood, they kneeled, and they cheered for this courageous young woman, who was determined to go through ceremonies. And everyone wept.
Among those attending the emotional ceremonies Thursday night was choir teacher Kaitlin Holt.
Holt came to national prominence November 14, 2019. That’s when a student gunman shot five students on Saugus High’s campus, killing two and then taking his own life.
Many students ran to Miss. Holt’s class for protection that day. She barricaded students until rescuers arrived and dressed the wounds of one student who had been hit by gunfire. News outlets dubbed Holt the "hero teacher. "
Less than two years later, with a school shooting, COVID-19, and the latest shooting as context we spoke again. Holt expressed amazement that young Joslyn had the strength to continue with her graduation despite her father’s sudden death.
She said it was "moving and emotional" to see hundreds of firefighters line the stadium as Joslyn walked into the ceremony. The uniformed firefighters stood at attention to honor her. But the most poignant moment came when the graduating senior put on her dad’s bright yellow "cover jacket" firefighters wear to protect them from fire.
Her dad’s former colleagues kneeled as she accepted her diploma. And then the crowd got to its feet to cheer on this young woman who displayed such enormous strength during heartbreak.
As for the graduation ceremonies going on in person, Holt said "God knows they deserve it. They’ve been through so much." Truer words never spoken. The Class of 2021 finally taking a bow. Saugus Strong once again.