MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) – Members of the graduating class at Alabama’s Goshen High School were given their diplomas during a ceremony at the school. For one graduate, the night was long overdue. 101-year-old John Motes finally received his diploma.
“When he was in the 10th grade, he had a medical problem and wasn’t able to graduate. And he was out of school for a long time,” says his wife Bettye Motes. At 18, he went to the Air Force as an engineer and served his country for years, always remembering the diploma he never got in 1933.
Motes’ children and family members say they are humbled and proud, “It’s really exciting. I just never thought I would see it,” said one family member.
School administrators were surprised when Motes’ family reached out about the opportunity. After all, the time that’s passed stretches longer than they have been alive, but they say it was a no-brainer. “We asked the seniors if they’d be willing to do it, and they were just beside themselves happy to do it. It was something that got sprung on us we’re happy to do it,” said Assistant Principal Anthony May.
He didn’t want special treatment, he just wanted his turn. At about 8:30 on May 25, 2017, 84 years later, that turn came.
Just like all the other Goshen grads, Motes has big plans after graduation. He is enrolling at the University of South Alabama in the fall to study music. He wants to live to be 107 so he says he has time to graduate.