Nick Tusant never finished his walk to school March 24, 2017, but he will take huge steps when he walks to get his high school diploma.
Nick, 17, was seriously injured when he was hit by a truck while in a crosswalk near West Valley High School in Hemet. He suffered a brain injury and was in a coma for more than three weeks and has since spent more than a year in therapy.
But he will get out of his wheelchair and walk across a stage to accept his diploma Thursday, May 24.
“As soon as I get him lined up, he’ll walk on his own to get his diploma,” said his father, Richard Tusant.
West Valley Principal Janice Jones praised Nick for his accomplishment.
“He has done an enormous feat,” she said. “This is going to be amazing when he walks across that stage. To see him go through what he went through is a testament to his strength.”
Nick has been studying with West Valley’s home hospital teacher Tim Dileo, and he was able to complete three semesters of learning over the past school year.
“I’m beyond happy,” Nick said of his upcoming graduation. “I’m done with high school now.”
Nick’s mother, Jessica, said she was unsure if he would be able to graduate with his class after he was hurt.
“I thought he’d be a little behind,” she said. “But he pushed so hard.”
For his perseverance, Nick was one of three recipients of the School Nurse Award, given to West Valley students who have overcome obstacles.
“It’s just really an example of the power of hope and faith and hard work,” Jones said. “He has an incredible work ethic.”
Although Nick did most of his studying at home, he has visited the campus and will be there often to participate in senior activities leading up to graduation.
“Prom was a milestone,” Jessica Tusant said. “Graduation will be another.”
His parents say his health is good, and physical therapy is going well. Nick still has issues with memory and anxiety that come with a severe brain injury, and he is on medications, his mother said.
“Little by little, every day he’s getting stronger and stronger,” she said.
When Nick visited West Valley on Thursday, May 17, he had a big smile as he visited with Jones and other staff members.
He went to the FFA room and was taken to the barbecue grill he helped build and that he used to man as a cook at football games and other events.
He even chided agricultural arts teacher John Campbell, who said there would be chicken, but no tri-tip, at an upcoming banquet.
“Whaaaaat?” Nick exclaimed. “That’s unacceptable Campbell.”
Nick and his family said they are grateful for the support people have shown since the crash.
“I’d like to thank the community for everything,” Nick said. “I’d like to thank West Valley High School.”