After dropping out of school in the 1930s, a 101-year-old man from West Virginia finally lived his long-awaited dream of receiving a high school diploma.
After 80 years, 101-year-old, Merrill Pittman Cooper, finally got his high school diploma from Jefferson Country Schools (JCS). He attended Storer College (formerly a high school) in Harpers Ferry West Virginia from 1934 to 1938.
The courses he took during his high school curriculum included college preparatory courses in Latin, biology, history, English, and mathematics. He planned on attending college but dropped out during his senior year of high school. He had to move “with his mother to Philadelphia for financial reasons.”
Cooper lived in Philadelphia for 50 years. He enjoyed working a successful career in transportation and would ultimately become a union vice president. But the one thing he regretted the most after all that time, was not getting his high school diploma.
In 2018, he visited the former Storer College campus, located at Harpers Ferry NHP and appealed his case to them. His family coordinated with NHP staff to help Cooper. It was a collaborative effort with support from local, regional and state entities to honor Cooper and his education at Storer. They also honor his achievements beyond his life on campus.
On March 19, Cooper and his extended family attended a special graduation ceremony held by JCS’ Superintendent Bondy Shay Gibson-Learn, Harpers Ferry NHP Superintendent Tyrone Brandyburg, and Storer College National Alumni Association President James Green, Jr. Cooper was awarded an honorary diploma.
“Jefferson County Schools is committed to helping every student, young or old, fulfill their dreams,” Gibson said. “For Mr. Cooper, that meant receiving a high school diploma. We are honored to help make that dream a reality.”
Congratulations to Mr. Cooper on receiving his diploma. We hope that move drop-out high school students will earn the chance to receive their diplomas too.