For many young men growing up during WWII, serving your country took priority over education. But for one veteran, it's never too late to get your high school diploma.
In 1944, at the age of 17, Russell Whittaker left Mound Westonka High School after his sophomore year to enlist in the U.S. Navy. He served on a minesweeper in the Philippines during the final year of World War II and was honorably discharged in 1947.
After the war, Whittaker, 88, came home and became an electrician, but he was never able to get his high school diploma. So, his son Paul asked the school board to make an exception, citing his father’s military experience and secondary education. They were more than happy to oblige.
In grateful appreciation of his service to our country, the Westonka School District awarded a diploma from Mound Westonka High School to Whittaker during the July 13 board meeting.
Westonka Superintendent Kevin Borg doesn’t make a habit of handing out diplomas to students who didn’t graduate, but Whittaker is undeniably special.
“This is my tenth year as a superintendent and this is the first time we have done this,” Borg said.
After waiting 69 years for his high school diploma, Whittaker is finally a graduate.