Rankin Family Accepts Jordan’s Diploma Posthumously as HHS Graduates 382

John Rankin speaks to Haverhill High's Class of 2019 on behalf of his late daughter Jordan during graduation exercises on May 31, 2019.

Haverhill High School sent 382 seniors off into the future with best wishes and diplomas Friday night at Trinity Stadium, but there were heavy hearts as one Hillie was noticeably absent: Jordan Olivia Rankin, who was killed eight months ago in a car accident on the city’s Liberty and Crystal Streets.

On Friday night, Rankin’s parents, John and Cindy Rankin posthumously accepted the lacrosse player’s diploma from Principal Glenn Burns and Mayor James J. Fiorentini as Hillie Nation offered a standing ovation to the family, including sister Julia.

John, Julia and Cindy Rankin attend Jordan's Haverhill High School graduation. (Courtesy photograph)

“We’re able to stand up here, largely in part due to so many of you. I would like to thank Jordan’s wonderful friends, classmates, teachers, teammates and coaches, and the families...so many of whom I see here tonight that have offered us comfort and support over these past eight months, and I know will continue to do so as we move on,” John Rankin said through tears as he took the stage Friday.

Jordan Rankin was killed Sept. 24 when police say Methuen’s Owen Foote drove 70 mph in a residential 30 mph zone. Foote was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident, police said. A search of his vehicle found marijuana and related paraphernalia, but Foote “did not exhibit any indicators or symptoms that he was under the influence,” according to Haverhill Police Sgt. Kevin F. Lynch.

As Foote’s motor vehicle homicide case continues, those close to Rankin have made it a mission to keep the teen’s memory alive. WHAV was there in April when Rankin family members and her lacrosse teammates packed a Haverhill District Court room to face the man police say caused Rankin’s death.

Each month on the 24th, the Haverhill High School lacrosse team marks the time since Rankin’s death with “Spread a Smile for No. 6 Day,” encouraging those who knew and loved Rankin to carry out a random act of kindness in her memory.

Such class and respect is not lost on John and Cindy Rankin.

“We know that you’ll go on to make your families, these teachers, and all of Hillie Nation extremely proud,” John Rankin told graduates at Friday’s ceremony.

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