78-YO Man Gets High-School Diploma After 60 Years | He Was Denied Because He Owed $4.80 for a Book

78-YO Man Gets High-School Diploma After 60 Years | He Was Denied Because He Owed $4.80 for a Book

"Oh, yeah, I’m excited," said Sams, though he was 'just a little bit' nervous about the graduation.

Ted Sams, 78, received his graduation alongside students of the San Gabriel High School class of 2022 on May 27, 60 years after he was in high school.

The ceremony took place at Rose Bowls in Pasadena, reports The Pasadena-Star News. Sams spoke about his graduation, "Oh, yeah, I’m excited." He was asked if he was nervous about the ceremony and he replied, "Ah, just a little bit, you know. But once I get in the line and settled and all that stuff, I think it’ll be OK. The one thing that I’m really glad about is that it’s going to be over here pretty soon."

He added, "This thing got so out of hand, I can’t believe it." Sams was a senior in high school in 1962, but a series of setbacks, including a $4.80 book charge, forced him to drop out without a diploma, per PEOPLE.



Sams' problems began in 1962 when he was suspended only five days before the conclusion of the school year for just "screwing around." He missed a critical final test because of the ordeal which he made up during the summer. However, there was another obstruction in the way of his diploma. He told KABC-TV, "When I went back with my grade. they wouldn't give me my diploma because I owed $4.80 for a book and so I just walked away and said forget it."



Sams has since regretted not walking in his own high school graduation. "Over the years, I complained to my kids a number of times about how $4.80 kept me from having my diploma."

After hearing their dad's story multiple times, his daughters Sherry and Sally decided to call his school to do something about the situation. The employees at the school left no stone unturned to find Sams’ original diploma from 60 years earlier. After finding the diploma, principal Debbie Stone invited Sams to walk with the class of ’22.


Finally, his wife, daughters Sherry and Sally and their husbands attended Sams' graduation ceremony. Sherry said, "Actually, when he walked and got his diploma, every person on that stage hugged him and then the whole class applauded for him." She added, "Everyone, and I think most of the people in the stands, too, were cheering and applauding."

Sally caught this beautiful moment on camera. She said, "Just to see this fulfilled, I guess, was, yeah, got choked up a bit. Especially when I was filming it, everybody congratulating him, shaking his hand and then the whole crowd cheering for him was very special. It was fun."



In the days following the graduation, the Alhambra Unified School District recognized Sams' success on Facebook. They wrote in the caption, "We enjoyed meeting you and your beautiful family and are thrilled to have helped make your 60-year-old dream come true." 






Cover Image Source: Alhambra Unified School District/Facebook