Box Elder High School holds mock graduation for student’s terminally-ill mother

From left to right: Randy Rasmussen, Greg Madson, Tyson Madson, Sherri Madson, Principal Jamie Kent and Mark Taylor gather for a photograph after the mock graduation held Friday at North Park Elementary School in Tremonton on Friday, Jan. 18, 2019.

Box Elder High School held a mock graduation Friday, Jan. 18. There were about 60 people in attendance to see the ceremony for an all-region football and basketball player. Tyson Madson, a 6’4’’, 300 pound lineman has several colleges looking at him to play football for them.

Box Elder High School Student Body President Jarom Olsen (left), Tyson Madson (center) and Senior Class President Savanna Crane (right) honor Tyson’s mother by participating in a mock graduation ceremony Friday, Jan. 18, 2019.

The ceremony was held in Tremonton’s North Park Elementary School’s multi-purpose room. The tables had purple table coverings, as well as balloon and flower decorations.

The ceremony was not so much for Tyson, as it was for his mother, Sherri.

Greg Madson, Tyson’s father, said Principal Jamie Kent reached out to the family and asked if they could do the mock graduation.

Sherri has suffered from ulcerative colitis since she was 21 and now, at 54, she has developed terminal liver cancer. Sherri has been through any and all treatments offered and has exhausted all options. The prognosis is not good at all, with only a few months to live – meaning she’d most likely miss Tyson’s graduation ceremony.

Seeing all of her kids graduate was something on her bucket list,” Kent said. “She told me she wanted to live long enough to see all of her children graduate from high school.”

Tyson is their youngest child.

Annette Whitaker, a counselor at the high school, and Kent were talking one day and realized this was a wish they could help grant. It was a way to give back to someone who has helped the school district and thousands of students for so many years.

Friends and family share a meal after the mock graduation held at North Park Elementary School in Tremonton on Friday, Jan. 18, 2019.

The mother of five recently started to use her sick leave, after 18 years as a teacher and six years as a guidance counselor. Leaving her work was not an easy thing to do.

“Sherri worked for Box Elder County School District for a long time,” Kent said. “She helped us get our HOPE squad started (at the middle school).”

HOPE Squad is a peer support team that provides service and support to students and the community to prevent youth suicide and suicidal behaviors; and, improve the access of appropriate prevention services for vulnerable youth groups and high-risk individuals.

“The HOPE Squad was special to her because of the high suicide rate in the county,” Greg said. “She was always interested in the welfare of her students. I would walk in from work and she would tell me she bought shoes, a shirt, or a coat for a student she thought needed them.”

Once they got started the two, Kent and Whitaker, were surprised at how many people wanted to be a part of what they were doing.

“We were a little worried. We didn’t know how it would turn out, we needed cooperation from students. We didn’t want him to be the only one there, so we asked the Student Body President Jarom Olsen and the Senior Class President Savanna Crane,  both of whom Sherri taught in middle school,” the principal said. “They both have fun personalities and were excited to help.”

She said it was neat to see everyone step in and help.

“Riverprint donated the programs for the family. One of our secretaries, Terry Nervarez, worked on the program set up, just like it would be for graduation. Jostens sent us rental caps and gowns at no charge.”

Some of Tyson’s teachers and administrators wanted to be at the ceremony. Assistant Box Elder County School Superintendents Keith Mecham and Gary Allen were on the stand supporting the event. Mecham was Tyson’s middle school principal and Sherri’s boss, while Allen was his high school principal for two years.

Kent thought it was a great tribute to Sherri.

I think it was amazing, all the people that wanted to help. I was really touched by how many really cared.

“We were grateful for the effort of so many to make this happen for Sherri,” Greg said. “It meant a lot to us.”

Tyson Madson gets blasted with silly string from his nieces and nephews.

Greg said their family is starting a foundation, The Madson Foundation, that will award a college scholarship to a senior from Box Elder High School and Bear River High School.

“The other thing we would like to do with the foundation is make funds available at Box Elder county schools for teachers to buy school supplies, clothing or other needs for students whose families are struggling. We are in the process of developing a website and begin taking donations for The Madson Foundation.”

More information on the foundation will be online soon. Or you can text or call Greg Madson at (435) 279-4101.

See the full ceremony in the video below:

Box Elder School District is putting on a mock graduation for Tyson and Sherri. It was important for Sherri to see Tyson graduate and without knowing what the future holds this is a very special event for them and our family.#teammadsonmama

Posted by Greg Madson on Saturday, January 19, 2019

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