Max Nelson throws his cap in the air as he is announced officially graduated from Ocean View High School during a special ceremony Friday. Nelson missed the scheduled graduation June 12 because of a fall that sent him to a hospital an hour before the ceremony. Friday’s proceedings included speakers, recent graduates, school board members, friends, relatives and administrators.(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)
Nico Falcon, Joseph Lego and Vincent Caiazzo, from left, prepare for a special graduation ceremony Friday for Max Nelson at Ocean View High School in Huntington Beach. Nelson missed the regular graduation ceremony June 12 because of a fall that sent him to a hospital.(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)
Max Nelson is greeted by school officials as he enters his special graduation ceremony at Ocean View High School on Friday.(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)
Recent graduates gather around Max Nelson during his special graduation ceremony Friday at Ocean View High School in Huntington Beach.(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)
Max Nelson speaks at his special graduation ceremony Friday at Ocean View High School, thanking his mother and father and those who helped him after he had to miss the scheduled graduation June 12 because of a fall that sent him to a hospital.(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)
Vincent Caiazzo, left, hugs Max Nelson during Nelson’s special graduation ceremony Friday at Ocean View High School in Huntington Beach.(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)
Students watch Friday’s special graduation ceremony for Max Nelson at Ocean View High School in Huntington Beach.(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)
Max Nelson, center, takes photos with recent graduates during his special graduation ceremony at Ocean View High School on Friday.(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)
June 12 was supposed to be a day of celebration for graduating Ocean View High School seniors. But that wasn’t the case for one Seahawk.
Instead of moving his tassle to the left side of his graduation cap, Max Nelson found himself in a hospital about an hour before the commencement ceremony at the Huntington Beach campus.
Earlier that day, Nelson, 18 — who has brittle bone disease, which results in bones that break easily — suffered a shoulder injury when his wheelchair tipped over as he was rushing over a cable on his way to graduation practice.
The thought of a heavily involved Ocean View senior missing an important milestone in his life didn’t sit well with Principal Courtney Robinson. So she told Nelson’s father the school would do something for him once he was feeling better.
On Friday, Ocean View exemplified why several administrators and parents often say that the word “love” can’t be spelled without the letters “OV.”
About 80 people, including Huntington Beach Union High School District Supt. Clint Harwick, gathered at the school’s theater for a graduation ceremony just for Nelson. Many learned about the event through social media.
Recent graduates showed up wearing their crimson gowns, parents carried graduation-themed posters, and cake and coffee were served after the ceremony.
Ocean View staff members, along with Robinson and recent grads, read the speeches they delivered June 12, with some modifications geared to Nelson. Harwick handed Nelson his diploma. Parents cheered.
Nelson told the audience he was thankful for the gift and that he’s on his way to full recovery. Then he talked about his time as a Seahawk.
“I wanted to keep it short and sweet and not keep you longer than you need to be, so thank you,” he said. “Ocean View has taught me a few things in my life. … To be a more caring person than the person next to you. Always remember that love conquers all, whether it be in any way, shape or form. And if you’re yourself, you’ll be accepted no matter what, because you’ll find people that’ll love you.”
Nelson gave special thanks to his father, Bryan, his grandmother and his mother, who died of breast cancer 10 years ago.
Bryan Nelson was overcome with emotion as friends and family members offered congratulations.
“He did so much at school,” Bryan said, listing his son’s involvement in intermediate sports and the school’s Associated Student Body and as an announcer for football and girls’ softball games. “You can’t imagine how busy we’ve been, but I loved it.”
Ocean View parent Lana Miller described Max as a vital part of the campus.
“He doesn’t let anything keep him from doing anything,” Miller said.
The Nelsons will move to San Diego in coming weeks. Max plans to attend San Diego City College and pursue a career as a sportscaster in hopes of working for the New York Yankees.
He said after the ceremony that he would have liked to be with his classmates June 12 but “knew this was meant to happen the way it did.”