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Live Feed Of Graduation Helps Injured Principal Join Ceremony In Spirit

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – There was a loud ovation Monday night at the Bank United Center at the University of Miami for South Dade High School Principal Javier Perez.

Perez continues to recover at a hospital from injuries he received at the hands of an alleged drunk driver, 51-year-old Marilyn Aguilera, in April.

Since Principal Perez could not be there to help send off the 658 graduates, the school district arranged for him to watch a live feed from his hospital room. The assistant principal read this year's graduation speech written by Principal Perez.

"Although I'm not physically able to attend this year's commencement ceremony, please know that my heart and spirit are with you right now as I watch the live stream," said Assistant Principal Juan de Armas, as he read from the speech.

Principal Perez had his legs amputated after an alleged drunk driver struck him while he was at Tamiami Park coaching his son's baseball team. He's undergone a number of surgeries since.

Students have missed him and say they were touched knowing he could at least watch them walk across the stage.

"I thought he was still going to be in bad condition but it's a good thing that he got better over time and was able to watch it live, watching over us and being with us spiritually," said graduate Larry Ponce.

South Dade HS Graduation
South Dade Principal Javi Perez wasn't able to attend the ceremony for his 658 graduates, but his presence was definitely felt. (Source: Oralia Ortega)

"We was all pretty happy about it.  Me and my friends we was extremely happy because he means a lot to us," said graduate Brishay Crawford.  "To see something that dramatic happen to him, really hurt everybody in a dramatic way because he meant so much to everyone."

As students begin this next chapter in their lives, the principal sent them off with these last words:

"Ladies and gentlemen of the graduating class of 2016, the world belongs to you. Take good care of it."


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