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84-year-old Lanark, Ont. man goes back to school to earn high school diploma

Gordon Wallbank, an 84-year-old Lanark, Ont., man, took time over the pandemic to get his high school diploma after dropping out years ago in Grade 9. Upper Canada District School Board

As the saying goes, it’s never too late to learn something new — and that is especially true for one Lanark, Ont., senior.

Last month, 84-year-old Gordon Wallbank completed his high school diploma with the Upper Canada District School Board.

Read more: Kingston public school graduations are looking different this year amid the pandemic

As a teen, Wallbank left school in Grade 9 after his father told him to drop out so he could start to make money.

Inspired by his daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Wallbank went back to the virtual classroom in September 2020.

“All around me, I’ve been surrounded by people who have done well in school. I thought, well, I think I’d better do something about this,” Wallbank said.

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He completed 40 lessons and worked his way through each new step over the last school year.

Despite his lack of a diploma, Wallbank had a successful 33-year career at the National Film Board of Canada, from where he retired in 1994.

Click to play video: 'Province announces back-to-school plan for September'
Province announces back-to-school plan for September

In 1999, he moved to Lanark where for 20 years, he drove a school bus — a job he says he absolutely loved. He retired from driving the bus in 2019.

Now, he hopes to encourage others with the story of how he drove kids to school for two decades before sending himself to class.

“Get an education,” he said. “Stay in school as you need it for your future. It’s there for a reason and gives you a good start.”

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