Margaret Thome Bekema never really graduated from Grand Rapids Catholic Central High in 1936 because she was forced to leave school to take care of her sick mother and her other siblings. But thanks to a relative, Margaret got an honorary diploma 79 years after the year she was supposed to graduate.
The 97-year-old didn’t really have an idea about the unexpected ceremony. To her surprise, she just said, “I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I had to quit school to take over the family. It was hard, you have no idea how hard that was. I loved high school, and I had lots of friends.”
The school’s principal, Greg Deja, left a message for Margaret. He said, “Her life has been one of sacrifice and service. It has been so encouraging and inspiring for our community because her choices represent all the core values that we teach our students.”
When Greg presented Margaret her graduation cap, the 97-year-old couldn’t stop her tears. She received a diploma, which is dated the exact year she should have graduated.