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97-year-old claims diploma from Virginia high school

Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 6:54 PM CDT
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ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - Graduation at Rockbridge County High School this year was unique.

It was the very first time they passed out diplomas outside, on the football field.

But for one recipient, it was a long time coming.

“I did finish three and a half years of high school,” said Ottie Marie Canady. “We had a large family, and I quit to help my mother when my father died.”

That was in 1943, and then she married and never quite got back to school.

“This was a total surprise,” she said. “Something I wasn’t expecting.”

“This is a very special occasion,” said RCHS Principal Mike Craft. “In all my years of education, I don’t think I’ve ever had this particular honor to give a graduate a diploma so far off from the intended date.”

She says not having the diploma hasn’t held her back at all.

“You name it, I’ve probably done it,” Canady said.

Traveling with her husband through his Army career, she held a range of jobs, once even being chosen over someone with a PhD. But her son thought she still needed her diploma.

“He just says, I thought that was one thing that you might like to have in your lifetime that you didn’t get,” Canady said.

And as she watched 240 other diplomas handed out, she was happy she got to go first.

“I was concerned about having to wait, you know, for a long time,” she said.

“You already waited a long time,” she was asked.

“Well, yes,” she laughed. “I waited a long time. Yes.”

And happy that she spent the years she waited well.

“Take every opportunity that comes your way, which I did,” Canady advised.

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