The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

June 13, 2014

Smiles, tears for graduates

Class of 2014 honors missing classmates

SHARON — Three empty seats were among the 121 positioned on the stage in Sharon High School’s auditorium Thursday evening.

Friends of the three seniors who died during the school year placed roses on those seats at the start of the commencement ceremony during a somber moment of silence.

Robbie Van Horn, 19, died accidentally at home Feb. 18. Football players Evan Gill, 17, and Corey Swartz, 18, died in a car crash on Connelly Boulevard in Sharon Nov. 8.

“We wanted to honor them, but keep it low-key,” said Mike Calla, acting superintendent. “We just wanted to keep the focus on graduation.”

A private ceremony was held in the conference room after commencement for the families of the three kids who should have been celebrating their graduation.

Earlier in the day, Mike Fitzgerald, acting principal, was counting down the minutes when the diplomas would be handed over to students.

“They’ve been through a lot this year. They pulled together as a family. I’m proud of them. All of them,” Fitzgerald said.

Among those who were “through a lot” are Greg and Craig Osmon.

The 17-year-old twins had been friends with Corey and Evan since grade school. The four played football together and were headed home from a high school playoff game in time to make their 11 o’clock curfew the night before the Tigers’ own playoff game.

The SUV they were in never made it completely around the curve on Connelly under the Oakland Avenue Viaduct before fate took the lives of the two football captains and seriously injured the Osmon brothers.

Each boy had a broken thigh bone and fractured pelvis. Greg also broke his arm.

Craig described his brother’s broken leg as a clean break, with the bone sticking out of his skin. He said his own leg was broken in two places with the bone twisted around muscles, which caused a lot of damage. Doctors did not turn the bone back, but set a bar in his leg and let the bone grow around it.

“So Craig is literally big-boned,” Greg joked. “I can run but not as fast.”

The boys’ mother, Tina Stankiewicz, said Greg was recently given a clean bill of health, but Craig still has a little ways to go.

They were thankful to have each other while they were homebound over the holidays.

“It was a lot better than just being alone, because he went through the same thing. And just talking about it made it easier,” Craig said.

In addition to playing football, Greg and Craig were both involved in charitable student clubs this year and did everything from cleaning up the streets of Sharon to reading to second-graders at Case Avenue Elementary.

“They are very outgoing. They have a hard time saying no,” their mother said.

Greg and Craig both graduated with honors and are going to college next year. Greg is headed to Indiana University of Pennsylvania to study culinary arts, and Craig is Edinboro-bound to work toward a degree in accounting.

In between their work as “kitchen specialists” at local restaurants, Greg and Craig want to spend as much time as possible with their friends during summer break.

“After what happened, it made me appreciate everything more. It made me think a lot,” Craig said.

He advised kids to slow down and try not to push the time away.

“It goes fast. Especially senior year,” Craig said.

Fitzgerald said he’ll be glad when the year is over – “For all of them.”

“I think it’s made them all stop and think. It’s made them all appreciate things more,” Fitzgerald said.

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