Thursday was Graduation Day, you might say, in the DeSoto County School District (DCS) for one particular graduate, although as a spry 96-year-old man, K.T. Robbins could have very easily trekked the long aisle like all typical high school graduates do each spring inside the Landers Center in Southaven.
Instead, Robbins, whose World War II service kept him from completing high school at Hurricane High School in Pontotoc County, only had to step up from his front row seat in the board room of the district offices in Hernando to receive his diploma before a crowded audience inside.
The district, with Supt. Cory Uselton as presenter, gave the Olive Branch veteran his honorary diploma as part of Thursday’s DCS School Board meeting. The diploma was placed inside a framed display that also included an American flag, folded respectfully inside.
“The Mississippi Department of Education allows school districts to give honorary diplomas to World War II veterans who were unable to complete their high school education after serving their country in the military,” Uselton said. “Mr. Robbins was unable to receive his diploma because he was out fighting for our country. We wanted to make sure Mr. Robbins gets his diploma from DeSoto County Schools.”
In receiving his diploma, Robbins, who was a quartermaster in the 9th Battalion as a staff sergeant, expressed his appreciation for the honor and made a point to address the children in attendance.
”One thing you need to do,” Robbins said, “is to please finish high school. It is the greatest thing you could ever do. If you don’t, there will be a lot of problems.”
Any good graduation ceremony has to have good music with it, and second-and-third-graders from Hernando Hills Elementary School were on hand to sing patriotic songs in honor of the new graduate.
Robbins also talked about his time in the military, noting he met Gen. George Patton while serving as a mobile baker in the Third Army in Great Britain and Iceland.
After his military service, he was working in a hardware story in New Albany while taking classes there under the G.I. Bill at Ole Miss. But, he had never been able to receive a high school diploma, until Thursday.
Robbins became the subject of congratulations and photo opportunities in the district office lobby, while the school board would continue its meeting Thursday night, now with one more graduate with a DeSoto County Schools diploma.
Bob Bakken is Staff Writer and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.