101-Year-Old West Virginia Man Finally Receives High School Diploma After Having to Drop Out in the 1930s

Let’s hear it for Merrill Pittman Cooper!

Merrill Pittman Cooper Diploma
Photo: Jefferson County Schools

It was a dream 80 years in the making. Last weekend, 101-year-old Merrill Pittman Cooper finally got his high school diploma.

Cooper attended Storer College, a former high school in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, from 1934 to 1938. But his education came to an abrupt halt in his senior year, when he and his mother were forced to move to Philadelphia for "financial reasons."

According to a news release from Jefferson County Schools (JCS), Cooper's high school curriculum included college preparatory courses in Latin, biology, history, English, and mathematics. He had aspired to attend college, but life had other plans.

Cooper went on to enjoy a successful career in transportation, eventually becoming a union vice president, but he always regretted not getting his high school diploma.

In 2018, his relatives reached out to JCS about rectifying that. Together they worked with Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, the Storer College National Alumni Association, and the West Virginia Department of Education, to honor Cooper for his achievements at Storer and beyond.

On March 19, Cooper and his extended family attended a special graduation ceremony, during which he was awarded an honorary diploma.

WATCH: 80 Years Later, Communities Rally to Present WWII POW With High School Diploma

"Jefferson County Schools is committed to helping every student, young or old, fulfill their dreams," JCS superintendent Bondy Shay Gibson-Learn said in a statement. "For Mr. Cooper, that meant receiving a high school diploma. We are honored to help make that dream a reality."


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