Marty Sullivan was the only senior citizen who took part in the senior breakfast at Newsome High School on May 18. The next day, he achieved a milestone he thought had long since passed him by – a high school diploma.
Sullivan, 83, enlisted in the Navy as a junior in 1951 and never had the chance to complete his high school career. Years later, he arrived in Tampa and eventually became a volunteer at the Hillsborough County Consumer & Veterans Services. While volunteering there, he learned that he qualified to receive his high school diploma.
Staff members there thought he not only deserved to receive his diploma, but all of the celebration that goes along with it. They contacted the school district and the students and staff at Newsome High School eagerly volunteered to make him a part of the Class of 2017.
After attending the senior breakfast and clap out, where underclassman and staff stood in the halls clapping and congratulating seniors, Sullivan put on his cap and gown and walked across the stage to a standing ovation and thunderous applause.
“I never expected all of this,” Sullivan said. “It’s been a great surprise. I never thought I would get my diploma. It’s terrific.”