Canton High School Graduating Tonight Without One Of Their Own

Tragically, the senior class at Canton High School is graduation tonight without one of their own.

Thursday night, we told you about the drowning of eighteen year old Daniel Perez. The senior was swimming with friends Thursday afternoon at Mill Creek Lake in Canton.

In the wake of the tragedy, Perez's closest friends and family tell KLTV 7 News that he lived his life to the fullest until the very last minute, and they are walking in his honor Friday night.

Friends say Daniel Perez worked hard for the moment he'd be able to walk across the stage and receive his diploma tonight.

"It's going to be a very emotional night," says close friend Emily Eberhart. "He had a heart the size of Texas and would do anything for anyone."

Now he'll be watching from above, while his friends remember his vibrant life.

Butch Green says about Daniel, "To me, he was the best of the best as far as young men were concerned."

He was a leader in FFA, and had a love for the rodeo and riding bulls.

"When he was riding bulls, there wasn't no quit in him," says Green.

"He loved just being with his friends and going hunting, fishing and hanging out with his buddies," says Emily.

His high school principal, Max Callahan, describes him as a "very humble young man. He was very kind, quiet spoken."

News of his sudden death is hitting the Canton community extremely hard. With so much potential and dreams for the future, it's not hard to understand why.

"There's no words, just not any words. There's no reason for this," says Green.

But at a time when most seniors part ways, this Canton senior class is growing even closer over the loss. "We've all waved the dress code for tonight. We're going to wear our boots and our blue jeans under our caps and gowns," says Emily.

Max Callahan feels the same way. "Tonight is not a funeral service. Tonight is a time to celebrate the accomplishments of Daniel and the other 118 graduates."

"This is where you have to trust God that it was God's plan and we have to put our faith in Him and I know Daniel's in a better place," says Green.

They're moving ahead with their lives, and resting assured that Daniel will always be with them, wherever they go.

Courtney Lane /