Date of Wake Forest student who died at NC coast not allowed at prom, school officials say

Wake County News

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (WNCN) – Most kids can’t wait for their senior prom, but Ian Lewis’ family will never get to see that day. The teen drowned in Emerald Isle last week.

His date is pushing to go in his honor, but Wake Forest High School said no.

Lewis’ date, Emilie Boyd, goes to Rolesville High School. The WFHS prom is on Saturday and Boyd still wanted to go in honor of Lewis, but the school district told her she couldn’t attend. Boyd said she’s accepted the decision, but still doesn’t think it’s right.

Lewis and Boyd were best friends. Lewis even “promposed” to Boyd in the middle of his soccer game.

“They did everything together,” said Rolesville senior Kelsie Buffaloe. “This happened a week ago. Students are hurting. They just want to carry out his memory and finish out what he planned.”

Boyd did not want to go on camera, but CBS 17 did speak with her on the phone. She wanted to go to Lewis’ prom to celebrate his life. Boyd said the school told her she could not have the tickets because they were under Lewis’ name. Boyd and Lewis’ family reached out to the school district and they decided Boyd could not attend.

Boyd said the school told her that her presence at the prom would make people sad.

“I thought it was a very heartless decision on the part of Wake County Schools and Wake Forest High School,” Buffaloe said. “Emilie just wanted to finish out the plans that she had made with Ian and now that’s been ripped away from her.”

Buffaloe is a student at Rolesville and a close friend of Boyd’s. She posted about the decision on Facebook and called it “pathetic.”

“I think the attention’s great,” Buffaloe said. “People need to know what’s happening and it needs to be fixed.”

The district said it has no board policy related to prom guests, but did decide it would not be appropriate for Boyd to attend. it sent CBS 17 a statement,

This has been a difficult and emotional week for many Wake Forest High School students and staff. Our hearts go out to the families of Ian and Paige and those who are grieving. Several memorials and vigils have been held and more are planned. After speaking yesterday with many who are directly involved, we decided a high school prom would not be an appropriate setting to memorialize a student.

– Tim Simmons, Chief of Communications, Wake County Public School System.

Lewis’ parents said they don’t agree with the school’s decision, but they respect it and they are looking forward to Boyd’s prom at Rolesville next week. 

Lewis and Boyd were also planning on attending her prom at Rolesville together, too, so she’s looking forward to celebrating Lewis that night.

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