The Edmonton senior who received his high school diploma more than 70 years after dropping out will get to don a cap and gown at a graduation ceremony alongside his grandson. 

I think it’s wonderful,” said Walter Ross, 90, who received his diploma in the mail last month.

“I just hope they don’t show my transcripts around because I wasn’t that great a student, actually.”

Ross was 16 when he dropped out of Grade 11 after his father suffered a heart attack. He had to take over running the family’s store west of Edmonton while his father recovered.

A few years later, after his father passed away and the store was sold, Ross hired a tutor and took his Grade 12 supplementary exams. He failed his French exam and was denied his diploma.

Last month, after raising a family, serving in the military and a career in insurance, Ross contacted education officials who sent him his diploma based on his life experience.

On hearing about his long-awaited diploma, three Edmonton high schools offered to include Ross in their graduation ceremony. He chose St.Francis Xavier High School, where his grandson is also graduating.

“When we’re looking at Mr. Ross at 90, we’re going ‘wow, life really is about learning every day,’” said Eugenia Chisotti, who is organizing the school’s grad ceremony.

He’s an inspiration to basically everybody who wants to do something.”

Chisotti says Ross will receive a cap and gown and a seat beside his grandson, who is also graduating. He’ll be called up to receive his diploma alongside the other students.

“His family was able to send us his baby photo. When all the students walk across the stage, we have their baby photo and grad photo side by side.”

While Ross probably won’t be joining the after-party, he says he’s thrilled to be able to have his graduation ceremony.

“Oh, I just think (I’ll be) having a great time with the kids. I think we have the greatest crop of young people we’ve ever had.”