Armada – An eastern Michigan high school left a chair empty at commencement in memory of a 14-year-old girl who was killed four years ago and would have graduated this spring.

April Millsap’s favorite colors, white and pink, decorated the vacant seat where she likely would have sat among Armada Area Schools’ class of 2018.

The high school presented an honorary diploma to April’s mother, Jennifer Millsap, in a special ceremony at last week’s commencement, the Times Herald reported.

“I thought it was a very touching gesture for them to think about April,” Millsap said. “I’m just very touched by the thought that the school put into remembering her even after four years.”

April was found dead in 2014 along the Macomb Orchard Trail in Armada, where she had been walking her dog, Penny.

James VanCallis, 36, was convicted of first-degree murder and other charges in April’s killing and was sentenced two years ago to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

VanCallis’ lawyer has said there’s no DNA evidence linking VanCallis to the crime. A court denied VanCallis’ appeal in January.

Superintendent Michael Musary said students came up with the idea for the commencement memorial.

“It was tough on our community and I think this was a great way to remember her,” he said.

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