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Earning a diploma at 95

There are always inspirational stories that surface each graduation season. They are usually about young people who have overcome the odds and risen above their circumstances to find success.
This is one of those stories. Well, all except the young part.
As the Falkville class of 2010 walked across the stage last week, they were joined by a special graduate. Donning her blue cap and gown of her fellow classmates, Earlene Harvey-Morris was included in this year’s graduation ceremonies, some 77 years after she was supposed to have received her diploma. Now, at age 95, she’s living the dream taken from her by the Depression and a closed school.
Harvey-Morris was supposed to graduate in May 1933. However, just months before she was supposed to receive her diploma, budget cutbacks forced her school to close. The Falkville students – including Harvey-Morris – were forced to go home and help their families find a way to get by.
Falkville School eventually reopened but it was too late for Harvey-Morris. She lived 10 miles away from the school and there was no bus service. Then, she married and school policy required all students to be single.
Having missed the opportunity to receive a high school diploma, she went on with her life. She had a family and lived a happy life.
But still, she had no diploma, even though she had certainly earned one. That’s when her daughter-in-law, Shelby Morris, took up her cause. She contacted the school and told them about Harvey-Morris’ situation. The school and the graduating class quickly championed her cause, asking her to be an honorary member of the class of 2010. Harvey-Morris’ family didn’t tell her she was going to be included in the graduation ceremony until the last minute – a surprise of sorts after so many years.
Harvey-Morris was presented with two diplomas last week – one from the class of 1933 and one from the class of 2010. Since then, her story has appeared in newspapers and websites throughout the country and she was featured on the “Today” show.
In a sea of cap and gown stories, Harvey-Morris’ story stands out for both its poignancy and its happy ending. It’s the perfect example of a dream that never dies – even after 77 years.