80-year-old Hutchinson man inspires by striving for his GED

An 80-year-old Hutchinson man is earning the title "lifelong learner" by inching his way toward getting his GED and inspiring teachers and fellow students along the way.

Sam Flom thought he knew everything school could teach him by the tenth grade, so he dropped out and joined the workforce.

65 years later -- after stints in construction, in the Army, as a janitor and a gambling manager -- he has one regret about never getting a diploma.

"I would’ve made me more money if I’d have had it," he said.

Sam’s wife passed away 13 years ago, and he wanted social interaction after retiring, so he started GED classes at Hutchinson Basic Adult Education in 2021.

More than 400 classroom hours later, he’s passed GED tests in science and social studies.

"I lived it, the social studies," he said. "Because they didn’t go back much before 1940 on the questions and stuff, so I pretty well lived all the social studies."

He fell one point short of passing his language arts test a while back and Thursday felt like a repeat in a different subject.

But now with decades of wisdom, nothing can make him quit school.

After missing out on passing his math reasoning test, again by just one point, Sam went right back to his corner and got right back to work.

Sam knows he’s the oldest student, but he says his brain works just as well as ever, and he doesn’t think he stands out.

His teachers beg to differ.

"I think he just enjoys interacting with people and inspiring them, but not meaning to inspire them," said Hutchinson adult education teacher Alicia Boncquet. "I think he just wants everybody to be better people."

One point better is all he needs on his two remaining test subjects, and he plans to pass in the next month, so he can go through graduation in May.

He has goals beyond getting his GED, including taking a computer class and possibly volunteering at the school.

"And then after that, if there’s any part-time job, I’m going to see if they’ll hire an 80-year-old man," he said with a laugh.

"An 80-year-old man with a diploma," a FOX9 reporter replied. 

"Yeah," Sam said. "There you go. That’s right."