90-year-old earns high school diploma, seeks after-grad party

An Edmonton senior just collected his high school diploma, more than 70 years after dropping out of grade 11.
Walter Ross, 90, received his high school diploma in the mail earlier this month - more than 70 years after he was forced to drop out during his grade 11 year. (CBC)

An Edmonton senior just collected his high school diploma, more than 70 years after dropping out of grade 11.

Walter Ross, 90, left high school at the age of 16 after his father had a heart attack.

“We had a very small little shop, a general store in the country,” Ross recalled. “My oldest brother had been killed in a training accident in the air force, and then my next brother had joined the air force.”

With his father needing time to recuperate, Ross went to work in the family store in Duffield, just west of Edmonton.

A few years later, Ross’ father passed away, prompting his mother to sell the family store.

In the hopes of making up for lost time, Ross convinced school officials to let him take the grade 12 supplementary exams.

He found a tutor to help him prepare for the exams, cramming a year’s worth of schooling into just six weeks.

"And I wrote the exams and passed them all except for French."

Unfortunately for Ross there was no getting around that language requirement, preventing him from collecting his diploma.

However, that didn’t stop him from going to a successful career in the insurance business. He also served in the military and raised a family.

But it was not until this year that Ross decided it was time to get that diploma once and for all.

“I decided at age 90 that I would get my high school diploma because I thought it would be kind of a fun thing to do,” he said.

After getting some encouragement from his family, Ross contacted education officials who granted him a diploma based on his life and military experience.

They mailed him his diploma earlier this month.

Now, Ross says he is thrilled except for one thing.

"Frankly, I thought maybe somebody would invite me to one of their graduation parties. I hear they have some good bush parties, and so on ... I haven't had any offers yet."

You can listen to Ross' full interview with Mark Connolly from CBC's Edmonton AM below:


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