When Costilla received her cap and gown, her mother wanted her to try it on.
“She wanted to see me in it. She was really excited to see me graduate, she couldn't wait.”
They shared many interests, including a passion for shopping and had done just that the day before at Penn Square Mall, searching for a graduation dress.
Best friends also watch out for each other.
Costilla's mother had checked her daughter out of high school early by phone Monday and told her to drive south. Their home was destroyed.
The mother and daughter talked by phone after Long got to the convenience store. And Costilla said she “didn't really sound scared.”
That wasn't surprising. Whenever Costilla would be worried about an upcoming test, Long would say, “Just calm down, don't be so stressed. You'll be fine, I promise.”
She appreciates her mother's advice. But some of it is difficult to follow in these circumstances, even with tremendous support from family.
“Mom would tell me, ‘Be strong in times of tragedy,'” Costilla said. “It's just really hard to do that.”
Balliet walked at 3:05 p.m. to cheers of family and friends.
Five minutes later, Costilla's name was called and her friends and family cheered, holding photos of Long over their heads.
About an hour and a half earlier, Julia Black, assistant principal in charge of the senior class, had hugged Balliet and Costilla.
“I know their character, I know their strength,” Black said.
Valedictorian Nhi Nai reminded the entire class, “We are hurt, but we are resilient.”
“We are graduating, but we are not done with our successes,” he said.
Minutes later, Balliet and Costilla, the daughters and best friends of Mi Suk Balliet and Terri Long, accepted their diplomas.
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