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After car accident, girls get their own graduation ceremony from Truman High School

Molly Varney (right) hugged her mother, Mary, after she Paige Hopkins accepted their Truman High School diplomas Monday at the Independence School District headquarters. The two missed their school’s graduation May 25 after getting in a car accident en route to the event.
Molly Varney (right) hugged her mother, Mary, after she Paige Hopkins accepted their Truman High School diplomas Monday at the Independence School District headquarters. The two missed their school’s graduation May 25 after getting in a car accident en route to the event. The Kansas City Star

Molly Catherine Varney and Paige Marie Hopkins had to sit through the recitation of only two names at their high school graduation Monday night — their own.

And there was no restriction on how many relatives could be present.

The Independence School District gave the girls their very own graduation ceremony after a car wreck ruined their chance to attend the one on May 25 along with their 353 classmates from Truman High School.

The girls walked together in their blue and red gowns to the music of “Pomp and Circumstance” at the school district’s offices. Truman Principal Pamela Boatright gave the graduation address. Superintendent Dale Herl introduced the members of the school board, and board President Ann Franklin presented the diplomas.

“Amazing,” Varney said afterward. “It was really nice of the school district to do this for us. I was really surprised, to be honest.”

“It was very considerate,” said Hopkins, adding that she had felt guilty that her friend missed out on the original graduation of the class of 2014 in Truman’s 50th year.

Hopkins was driving and Varney was in the passenger seat as they left the QuikTrip at 23rd Street and Noland Road on their way to the ceremony. Another car on 23rd Street T-boned them on the driver’s side.

Hopkins suffered a cut on her forehead, and her hand was pinched between the car’s door and steering wheel. Varney hit her leg and her head. Neither girl was seriously injured, but both had to be checked at a hospital. They had to miss graduation.

“I just felt horrible I took this from her,” Hopkins said, although Varney had assured her friend that it was all right.

Ryan Hopkins said his stomach dropped when he learned his daughter and Varney were in an accident. Once he was assured they were OK, “then it was bummer, they’re going to miss walking,” he said.

Corinna Hopkins, Paige’s mother, and Kristina Brown, her stepmother, also attended the special graduation. Mary and Keith Varney were there to see their daughter graduate. There were about 20 people in the audience.

“It’s very exciting for the school district to go above and beyond,” said Keith Varney. “You could tell the girls were very excited about it.”

Molly Varney plans to get an associate of arts degree at Metropolitan Community College-Longview and then attend a university. She wants to be a photographer.

Paige Hopkins plans to attend Missouri State University in Springfield in the fall and major in psychology, specializing in post-traumatic stress disorder. She hopes to work with veterans.

“I just thought we were going to have to go through the rest of our lives saying, ‘Oh, we got our diplomas in the mail,’” Hopkins said. “We didn’t do anything amazing in school or anything. We were your average, everyday students and the fact that they thought about us anyway and that they did this was amazing. It blows my mind.”

To reach Matt Campbell, call 816-234-4902 or send email to mcampbell@kcstar.com.

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