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Mother of Joplin Tornado Victim Abandons Seat-Saving Request

Joplin High School, where Bennett teaches.
Joplin High School, where Bennett teaches.

The mother of a boy killed in the Joplin tornado is abandoning her request to have a seat saved for him during the high school commencement.

The Springfield News-Leader reports that Tammy Niederhelman wanted her son, Zachary Williams, honored at Sunday's ceremony. Williams would have been part of the graduating class, and their commencement coincides with the tornado's fifth anniversary.

While there will be no empty chair or cap and gown hung in his honor, Zachary's family have been invited to attend the ceremony. Niederhelman says she has accepted the invitation.

Instead of an empty seat, Joplin High School plans to honor Zachary, six other students and one district staff member who died in the storm by displaying their names on a large screen for the crowd.

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