Every Sunday Maurice LaClair has a routine: church at 11 a.m., home at noon. But on Thursday he was running late.
"The priest had a lot to say," said Maurice.
And so will Maurice; he will be talking to a group of high school students about his life. His speech has already been written.
"Education has come a long way since I went to school as a young boy in a one-room schoolhouse," said Maurice.
But when his dad died, the 13-year-old left school to help with the family logging business; later when the world was at war, he was drafted.
Reporter Joe Carroll: You saw combat?
Maurice: Yes I did, right in Burma, fighting the Japanese.
The Army soldier even traveled hundreds of miles over the Himalayas with supply mules.
Carroll: You got educated didn't you?
Maurice: I did, I did, I saw a lot. I was in China for about a year.
After the war Maurice came back to his wife, Jeanne, started a dairy farm and raised six children. He’s just another hard-working veteran. Now, 70 years later, he's getting his high school diploma thanks to a program through Vermont Veterans Affairs, the American Legion and the school. It's to honor those who have served their country.
"I don't think I'm good enough for some of these things you know," said Maurice.
"You know he fought for two years for this country, and uh, I think if that doesn't deserve a diploma, nothing does," said Mary Perkins, Maurice's daughter.
The graduation is at Lake Region Union High School.
"I got a feeling they are not going to pay much attention to me," said Maurice.
Seventy-two students will be graduating. Maurice is running late.
"I couldn't find my piece I was going to say," said Maurice.
His speech went missing and needed a rewrite. Maurice makes a point to mention his only daughter.
Maurice is no stranger to Lake Region Union High School; in fact the high school dropout was on the school board when it was founded. The future grads have no clue about his influence at their school.
Carroll: You nervous yet?
Maurice: Well, a little bit.
And the guy who didn't think anyone would notice gets a welcome surprise-- a standing ovation as he walks in.
There are the inspirational speeches and Maurice waits patiently for his time on stage.
"I always worked hard; work never hurt anyone. Go forward, keep busy and remember you are never too old to learn. I'd like to thank everyone that made this happen, especially Mary," said Maurice.
Then the part everyone's waiting for, the passing out of the diplomas.
A man who didn't think he was good enough for a diploma was schooled by his community.
After the ceremony, of course, he had a graduation party with family and friends.
PO Box 4508