Podcast: Spurr Relates Story Behind Finally Donning Graduation Cap and Gown After 65-Year Wait

Jean Spurr displays her Georgetown High School diploma. (Courtesy photograph.)

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School graduation season offers a time for reflection, planning and often some heartwarming stories, but it was considerably more for 82-year-old Jean Spurr of Groveland.

Spurr was awarded an honorary diploma June 1 from Georgetown High School where she was a member of the class of 1959 at graduation ceremonies on Saturday morning. She recently told WHAV listeners the unusual and heartfelt experience of how she came to finally don cap and gown and participate in high school graduation.

Spurr and her companion, Steven D. Sardella of Haverhill, were guests on WHAV’s “Win for Breakfast” program. Earlier this year, Sardella had an idea about a special birthday gift for Spurr. He asked the Georgetown School Committee to grant her an honorary diploma based on her life experience. The School Committee unanimously agreed and everything fell into place.

“They gave me a cap and gown and a flower. The superintendent, everyone, was just so nice to me there. They treated me with so much respect. They were just awesome,” she said. “(The ceremony was) in back at the Perley High School—the Perley Elementary now, but it was the Perley High School where I went to school.”

Spurr explained how she had an excellent attendance record, but fell just a few credits short of graduating. Instead of attending an extra year of school, as was the case back then, she married and moved to Groveland where she raised a family, waitressed for 30 years and eventually came to own the Groveland Square Diner. She also drove a school bus for nearly 20 years, worked for the Groveland Highway Department and currently volunteers at the town clerk’s office.

Spurr earlier considered attempts at earning her diploma earlier. “I had all my books for the GED, and I tried at different times during my years to try it. For some reason, I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do it!”

She said the diploma will have a special spot in her home.

“Yes I do, I have it home. I’m going to put it right in my living room where everybody can see it and I can look at it every day. It’s beautiful. I can’t describe how I feel! It’s just mind boggling to me how nice everyone was. My family was there. I’m very grateful.”

Spurr was joined by family as School Committee Chairman Michael Hinchliffe presented her with a diploma during this year’s Georgetown graduation ceremonies. Spurr strode across the stage to accept her diploma, share hugs with School Committee members and administrators and briefly thanked all those in attendance.

“Jean your journey is one of unwavering spirit and love for your community. You have served with grace, faced life’s challenges head on, and now you come before us a graduate,” Hinchliffe said in remarks during the ceremony. “This diploma is a symbol of your life long journey of learning and service.”

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School Committee Chairman Michael Hinchliffe presents Jean Spurr with her Georgetown High School diploma. (Courtesy photograph.)

Steven D. Sardella, left, made the request that Jean Spurr receive her diploma. (Courtesy photograph.)

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