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84-year-old to receive high school diploma at Hudsonville graduation

Posted at 6:15 PM, May 19, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-19 19:06:15-04

HUDSONVILLE, Mich. -- Al Steenwyk has waited longer than most people for his high school diploma.

The 84-year-old veteran will graduate this week with the Hudsonville High School's class of 2015.

"I don't know what the end of my life story will be, but it will never be said that I give up," he said.

It's a day that Steenwyk says should have happened more than 60 years ago, but life had other plans.   He left Hudsonville schools in the eighth grade to work on a farm, and in 1951 he joined the Navy as a salvage diver.

Al SteenwykHe said he never made it to high school, but later went on to get his GED, bachelor's degree and MBA.  The official diploma from Hudsonville High School escaped him, until now.

He wrote a letter to Hudsonville's current high school principal Dave Feenstra asking if he could receive his diploma.  He's now the 430th member of Hudsonville's 2015 graduating class.

"Not only was he wanting his diploma, he was wanting to share things with our students, which was awesome," Feenstra said.

Stynweek talked to Hudsonville students during an assembly Tuesday morning.

"Don't ever be ashamed if you fail," he said.  "You can always try again, and find some work that you enjoy."

Hudsonville's graduation ceremony will be held Thursday, May 21 at 6 p.m. at Hope College's DeVos Fieldhouse in Holland.