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BEA’s graduating class of 2016 remembers Ethan Rorman

By Staff | Jun 5, 2016

Ethan celebrating his 16th birthday on December 21, 2013, just two months before he tragically passed away in a car accident.

At Blue Earth Area’s High School graduation on Sunday, June 5, what looked like a packed auditorium had one empty chair in it.

That chair, says the senior class of BEAHS, is for Ethan Rorman.

“We have gone through so much as a class, we wanted a way to remember Ethan without drawing too much attention to his absence,” says senior officer Karli Olsen, daughter of David and Suzie Olsen.

For Olsen and other seniors at BEA, graduation day will be bittersweet. They will be walking across the stage to accept their diplomas, but without their friend and classmate, Ethan, who tragically passed away in a car accident in 2014.

“We carry him with us in our hearts wherever we go,” says classmate Chandler Kienitz, son of Joel and Rachel Kienitz.?”And we have always kept the Rorman family close to us.”

Ethan’s kindergarten picture showing his “Class of 2016” shirt.

The students remember Ethan as having a constant and contagious smile, forever making his classmates laugh and being friends with everyone.

“That’s what we want people to remember about Ethan,” said Makyah Amundson, who sported her “#EthanStrong” T-shirt to school. “Ethan was always happy, and that’s who we remember and will remember.”

As they reflected on their fallen friend and classmate, the students shared that Ethan would be the first of their classmates to be excited about graduating.

“He would probably say something like, ‘we’re finally done,’ and would probably try to attend all of our graduation parties,” said Kienitz.

But from darkness comes light, and the light that Ethan shared with his classmates will be reciprocated by his classmates at graduation. The senior officers decided it be best to leave one chair empty, with a floral boutonniere like all other classmates, to remember Ethan.

Ethan’s classmates who also attended the same church, St. Peter and St. Paul Catholic Church in Blue Earth, held a special baccalaureate in Ethan’s honor, as seen by his purple “E”

Through it all, one thing is for certain the class of 2016 has become stronger than ever.

“We came together as a class very quickly, and our grief was shared and did not become one person’s burden over another’s. We all shared our grief,” says Olsen.

“We pray often and think of the Rormans often,” added Kienitz.

“We always try to find ways of remembering Ethan and sharing our memories we had with him. It’s important to find ways to remember,” said Amundson.

BEAHS?principal Rich Schneider also says he remembers Ethan fondly, and seeing the graduating class of 2016 remember Ethan shows good progress for students.

Blue Earth Area students participated in a #PurpleForEthan basketball game this past February.

“It’s an indication of how well the students are coping with things they are using this as a means of connecting with each other, which is good to see,” says Schneider. “Any time a group is challenged, it pulls them together and helps us all realize there are more important things to life than just academics or athletics.”

Ethan’s parents, Duane and Nancy Rorman, found the gesture by the senior class was surprising and special.

“Ethan’s classmates and friends have kept him included in various sports and activities for the past two years and it has meant so much to us,” says Nancy Rorman.

Rorman shares that it is because of the students in Ethan’s class that she is able to see what Ethan could have been doing with his classmates because of their inclusivity with the Rorman family.

“We would like to thank Blue Earth Area High School and especially Ethan’s classmates and their families for all they have done. We have been able to experience some of what Ethan would have been going through these past two years and it is hard to put into words just how grateful we are for that. We are so proud of these kids and wish them all the best.”

The class of 2016 presented the Rorman family with a bench that has Ethan’s name carved in it back in May of 2014.

From raising awareness for driving safety, to T-shirts, a memorial bench, and so much more, the class of 2016 has done many things to remember their classmate,?Ethan.

And it seems the class has become stronger than ever, perhaps even #EthanStrong, these past few weeks as they prepare for their graduation and their collegiate careers ahead of them.

Though the chair may be empty, these student’s hearts are full of fond memories of their classmate.