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Hudson Valley

Grandfather receives high school diploma

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Albany/HV: Grandfather receives high school diploma
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37 people walked across the stage to receive their diplomas at Johnsburg Central School on Saturday. YNN's C.J. Spang has the story of one very unique graduate.

NORTH CREEK, N.Y. -- They have waited years for this moment, high school graduation.

At the 108th commencement of Johnsburg Central School, nobody waited longer than 67-year-old Russell Leigh.

"A lot of waiting," he said. "A lot of years of waiting."

Leigh dropped out of high school in 1961 at age 16 to serve in the Navy as a nuclear power electrician aboard submarines. Now, 51 years later, he will get his diploma through Operation Recognition. The state program lets World War II, Korean and Vietnam War veterans who didn't finish high school, receive a diploma, as long as they have a high school equivalency.

"I just found out about it," Leigh said. "I got the school newsletter the beginning of June, second or third, I read it on Saturday and on Monday I came up to see Mr. Markwica about doing it."

Leigh was not the only family member to graduate Saturday. He got to share the moment with his grandson, Mike Allen.

"It's an opportunity that not many people get," Allen said. "And it's one of those once-in-a-lifetime things that you'll never really understand until after the fact. I think it'll start to sink in a little later on."

"I think it's right in there with days that I'll remember for a long time," Leigh said. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP