During a special ceremony held in her Columbus, Ohio apartment, 106-year-old Reba Williams was presented with her high school diploma by the Mount Vernon School District’s Superintendent, Steve Short, reports the Mansfield News Journal.
Reba moved to Mount Vernon with her parents as a child. She completed 12 years of schooling, but never graduated. Well, until now that is. According to Reba’s daughter Lavata, her mother was denied her diploma after a teacher assigned a final book that she refused to read. Reba expressed that she’d read the book before and had no desire to read it again. Now that she’s older and much wiser, she says she wouldn’t advise the students of today to follow in her footsteps.
“I’d tell them what happened to me. If they expect to get anyplace in this world, they have to learn,” she said.
Recently a profile was done on Williams by the Mansfield News Journal, which garnered the attention of a former Mt. Vernon High School English teacher and led her to contact the school, requesting that they give Williams her diploma. Last month, the school board unanimously agreed.
“Oh, for heaven’s sake. Isn’t that wonderful?” Williams said.
During her ceremony, a host of family, friends, journalists and Mt. Vernon High School personnel stood eagerly in her bedroom as Short presented the diploma.
“I get to do a lot of things in education that I enjoy, but this is something I really enjoy. Congratulations, Reba, you are the top of your class. You’ve taught us a lot,” said Short.
“I liked to learn everything. In high school, I took everything that I could,” she said.“One thing about Mount Vernon, we had good schools. There was no excuse for us not to learn.”