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Class of 2020 not the first high school class to have senior year drastically altered

This story was originally published on July 21, 2014.

World War II upset millions of people’s lives across the United States, both those who served in the armed forces and those on the homefront.

And the ways those lives were affected were just as varied.

For Paul Hannold, it meant that he did not receive his high school diploma until 2002.

He enlisted in the U.S. Army during his senior year at Youngsville High School, working under the assumption that his draft notice was eventually going to come.

He served as a gunner with the 708th Amphibian Tank Battalion in the Pacific Theatre.

“Paul came home from the war,” his wife, Dot, said, “and went back to finish his education.”

“I planned on finishing up and getting my diploma,” Paul said.

Dot said he “thought ‘I can’t go to school with those little kids.'”

Fast forward to 2001.

The Pa. General Assembly passed Act 73 which “authorizes school district(s) to grant a high school diploma to any honorably discharged veteran who served in the United States Military during World War II” to “recognize and honor veterans who left high school prior to graduation to serve.”

In 2002, Hannold was given three options for how to receive his diploma walk with the 2002 YHS graduating class, receive it in a private ceremony in the library or receive it in a ceremony in the library televised on the school’s closed-circuit television system.

They chose the third option.

“The high school saw (the) bill and I graduated (in 2002),” he said. “From 1942 to 2002 is the gap between me and getting my diploma.”

“One (student) came out and said ‘boy, that was cool,'” Dot said. “Another girl asked why it took so long.”

“They just made the best party you could imagine,” she added.

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