Ontario woman, who just turned 100, receives high school diploma

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Ontario woman, who just turned 100, receives high school diploma
At the age of 100, Doris Young finally got her high school diploma – 80 years after leaving Caledonia high school due to a health condition and increasing responsibilities on her parent's dairy farm near Tyneside, Ont – May 25, 2024

About eight decades after departing Caledonia High School due to a medical condition and responsibilities on her parents’ farm, Doris Young finally has a diploma.

The native of Tyneside, Ont., who turned 100 in March, picked up her honour Tuesday during a short ceremony in front of River Heights Elementary School, the site of her former high school and current school of her great grandchildren.

“It’s a feeling that’s hard to explain. I was overwhelmed,” Young recalled.

“I have a beautiful family, four girls and two boys, and all of them were able to be there.

Grand Erie District School Board (GEDSB) manager of communications Dave Smouter says Young’s diploma was presented with 50 friends, family, and school board members in attendance.

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He says the idea came from Young’s daughter who was a former educator with the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, Ruthanne Spence.

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“We loved the idea and said, ‘Of course it’s possible.'” Smouter explained.

“So we produced a bit of a replica of a 1940s graduation diploma and we sourced a cap and gown in the right colours from the former Caledonia High School.”

Young started her schooling at a quaint elementary school in 1930, a small single-room schoolhouse at the corner of Tyneside and R.R. 66.

Gathering firewood, preparing meals and cleaning were part of the student curriculum aside from learning history, geography and math.

The school days ran between September and June with classes featuring a single educator beginning at 9 a.m. and ending at 4 p.m.

“I had a two-and-a-quarter mile walk and some was on a gravel road and some us was on clay road,” Young said.

Young says math and home economics were her favourite subjects but admits composition, which is reading and writing skills, was not her thing.

She began high school in Caledonia during a turbulent time in 1938 when the world was on the verge of a large-scale war.

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“Well, it was quite a time because the war was on and the boys would graduate from Grade 12 and go into the air force, army or become sailors,” she remembers.

Asthma and an extreme allergy to chalk dust would catch up with Young in 1943, contributing to her departure early from secondary school.

She would marry her husband Derwyn in 1944 and settle down on her childhood farm to raise dairy cattle while her children would attend the same one-room schoolhouse down the road.

Young is the matriarch of a family that includes six children and a foster son.

Her extended family is 12 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren and a great-great-grandson.

Young would take on a position with Canada Post in 1973 at the Mount Hope office before retiring as postmaster in 1987.

The centenarian will pick up another honour from the GEDSB Monday when she receives the Learn Lead Inspire award.

“We present that to students, staff members and community members who demonstrate really outstanding commitment to the educational community and are aligned with our own vision to learn, lead and inspire,” Smouter said.

Despite having a new diploma in hand, the retired Young says she doesn’t have any big plans.

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“At 100? Not too many,” she laughs.

“Just try to keep as healthy as I can and do what I can to help whoever I can.”

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