California man, 78, gets high school diploma 6 decades later

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — For 60 years, Ted Sams regretted missing his high school graduation.

Now 78, Sams can finally call himself a graduate after donning a cap and gown and receiving his diploma Friday with the class of 2022 at Southern California’s San Gabriel High School.

Back in 1962 when he was a high school senior, Sams got in trouble and was suspended five days before the end of the school year. He said he missed a crucial final exam and had to make it up over the summer.

“When I went back with my grade, they wouldn’t give me my diploma because I owed $4.80 for a book,” Sams told KABC-TV. “And so I just walked away and said forget it.”

The school still had Sams’ original diploma locked away in an old filing cabinet. He beamed as he walked across the graduation stage at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena and received the diploma.

“Over the years, I complained to my kids a number of times about how $4.80 kept me from having my diploma,” he said.

Sams said he plans on hanging the diploma on a wall at his home.