Four Arkansas men had their nearly 70-year-old dream come true when they donned caps and gowns and accepted their high school diplomas.
The men from the Springdale High School class of 1956 missed their own graduation so they could join the armed forces. Air Force Veterans Carl Stults, Charles Leroy Moon and Bob Self along with Army veteran Bobby Burke joined the 484 graduating seniors from Springdale High School’s class of 2022 as honorary graduates.
Springdale school staff found out about the four senior citizens missing their graduations after meeting them at the Wagon Wheel Café in Springdale.
“These guys that whole class they meet I think once a month for lunch,” said Springdale High School principal Jason Jones. “They are true Springdale Bulldogs, they are all about Springdale.”
The inclusion of the veterans during the graduation was a surprise for students, explained Springdale School District Administration. During the ceremony, each man was recognized for their accomplishments such a owning successful businesses, working in the poultry industry, and even raising racehorses. The moment was an opportunity to honor the men and their service, but also served as a learning experience for the 2022 graduated class.
“They’re gonna learn honor, they’re gonna learn respect, it’s just gonna be a special moment for them,” said Jones of the class.
In February, the high school handed out their first honorary diploma to 84-year-old Preston Mayes. While he didn’t have an opportunity to walk the stage like the most recent graduates, he was presented with his diploma during a basketball game. Mayes left public school without graduating to serve in World War II, the Korean War or the Vietnam War.