ESSINGTON, Pa. (WPVI) --In a sea of blue caps and gowns was a visible absence Wednesday night at the Chester Community Charter School's graduation.
Zenas Powell, a 14-year-old boy who was shot and killed on May 21 in Chester, would have been graduating with his classmates.
Instead his father accepted the slain teen's diploma to a thunderous applause.
"So much. I was so happy. I was so impressed. I knew he could do it," said Robert Nichols when asked about his thoughts when accepting his son's diploma. "I'm so proud of my son."
Weeks earlier, Zenas was an innocent bystander when he walked out into a hail of gunfire on the 1100 block of Pine Lane.
His death is Chester's 11th homicide of the year, representing the undercurrent of violence gripping a small city.
And it's young children like Zenas who are collateral damage.
Zenas was unable to walk across the stage Wednesday night, "but he's here in spirit," said Stephanie Powell, mom. "That's why he's got his dad, his mom, his grandmom."
His 8th-grade class gifted his family with flowers, a box of notes and a larger poster with their signatures - not to mention he won a physical education award.
"It's unexplainable, that's all I can say. My baby made his mark, and it's never going to go anywhere," said Powell. "I know they will never forget him and nor will we."
Zenas was planning on attending Milton Hershey School for ninth grade.
So far, Chester police have made no arrests in his death.