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US high school awards 90-year-old dropout a diploma by calculating `life credits'

US high school awards 90-year-old dropout a diploma by calculating `life credits'

John Lawrence Locher has accomplished many things in his 90 years, including living through the Great Depression, fighting in the Pacific during World War II and a long career with General Motors.
But missing was the diploma whose pursuit he abandoned in the early 1930s to help feed his family in Detroit.
Locher checked it off his list, wearing his cap and gown in Detroit Southwestern High School's 2008 commencement ceremonies Monday night _ more than 70 years after he dropped out.
"I feel 100 percent lighter," he said. "I appreciate this moment very much. ... It really was overwhelming."
The school sent the General Motors Corp. retiree an honorary diploma for "life credits" this past winter to his home in Cape Coral, Florida. Southwestern Principal Garnet R. Green later said Locher's family had contacted the school about the diploma and allowing him to participate in commencement.
"When I opened it up, I almost fainted," Locher said a few hours before the ceremony from his daughter's home outside Lansing. "I thought someone was playing a real cruel joke on me."
Locher left school after 10th grade, with the city and rest of the country mired in the Depression and his father suffering from tuberculosis.
"My family was starving, literally," he said. He worked a variety of jobs before joining GM in 1936.
Five of Locher's eight children and his 80-year-old wife, Mary, were among relatives attending the ceremony.
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Associated Press writer David Aguilar contributed to this report.