Surprised with her high school diploma 50 years later

This time of year, many high school seniors are thinking about graduation and getting their diploma.

One Pike County, Mo. woman received her diploma this week almost 50 years after she was supposed to graduate from Bowling Green High School.

Cora Lee Chandler retired from the Northeast Community Action Corporation Wednesday, but she got a big surprise when the superintendent of the Bowling Green School District brought a special gift to her going away party. The present was something Chandler never expected, her high school diploma she never received back in the spring of 1964.

"It was really neat to see her," Bowling Green School District Superintendent Darin Powell said. "She didn't know it was coming. The excitement, the shock on her face. It's one of those things that will stay with me for a lifetime."

When Chandler was originally scheduled to graduate, she was pregnant with her first child. Former school policies forbade any young woman who was pregnant at the time to actually go through graduation. Although Chandler had the credits and met all of the requirements, she never got the official parchment paper from the school district. So one of her co-workers made a call to a school board member, who contacted Powell.

"I have some great friends," Chandler said. "I have a great family, but my friends. It's something I will also treasure."

Chandler has held jobs where they never checked to see if she actually was a high school graduate. When she was asked about high school she never lied and would say she attended 12 years of school. But now, Chandler said it's a relief to know that she is now an official graduate of Bowling Green High School.

"It was more than a shock when Mr. Powell came in," she said. "It was, I didn't believe it. And I said it's not real and they said yes it is real."

So now, she said she's going to apply for a job and tell them that she has a high school diploma.