Ted Sams was supposed to graduate in 1962 but didn't because he refused to pay the $4.80 book fee.
On May 27, Ted Sams graduated with the San Gabriel High class of 2022 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The twist? He's 78 years old! Sams was expected to graduate in 1962 but walked away empty-handed after refusing to pay the $4.80 book fee. He told The Pasadena Star-News that it was a lot of money back in ’62. As a working kid who wasn't from an affluent family he “just said, ‘Ah, forget it, I’ll have to wait.’"
Ted Sams, 78, fulfills dream by graduating from San Gabriel High before teary-eyed family members https://t.co/P2VSQgh0Fh— Robert Morales (@RMoralesPT) May 28, 2022
Speaking with the outlet ahead of the ceremony, Sams said he was both nervous and excited for his big day. After the event, he admitted that it was one of the best days of his life. "When you get your picture taken and people are cheering for you, what do you expect?" he shared. "I didn't expect all of that, either, but what can I say?"
Ted Sams missed his high school graduation in 1962 because he missed a final exam and owed $4.80 for a book.— 7News DC (@7NewsDC) May 31, 2022
Last week, at 78 years old, he put on a cap and gown and received his diploma after 60 years. https://t.co/Ny1U8E3z6v
On his special day, the almost 80-year-old was surrounded by loved ones, including his daughters Sherry and Sally, and their husbands. “Actually, when he walked and got his diploma, every person on that stage hugged him and then the whole class applauded for him,” Sherry Sams said. "Everyone, and I think most of the people in the stands, too, were cheering and applauding. They knew he was there from 1962 and they knew his story because the principal had talked about it, so both myself and my sister got teary because kind of the whole stadium came to a standstill." "Just to see this fulfilled, I guess, was, yeah, got choked up a bit," Sally told the outlet. "Especially when I was filming it, everybody congratulating him, shaking his hand and then the whole crowd cheering for him was very special. It was fun."
Calif. man finally receives high school diploma 6 decades after he was denied due to book fee. Ted Sams was expected to graduate in 1962 but walked away empty handed after refusing to pay $4.80 https://t.co/pnB5W9K6nJ pic.twitter.com/tUrsulqjua— Stephanie. (@qsteph) June 2, 2022
Sams has confessed that he regretted not walking at his own high school graduation 60 years ago. "Over the years, I complained to my kids a number of times about how $4.80 kept me from having my diploma," he told KABC-TV. Sams explained that he was suspended just five days before the end of the school year for, as he put it, "just screwing around." This forced him to miss an important final exam, which he made up for over the summer.
Later, the book fee also became an issue in his quest to graduate high school. "When I went back with my grade," he told KABC-TV, "they wouldn't give me my diploma because I owed $4.80 for a book and so I just walked away and said forget it." But now, he's happy that he's finally and officially a high school graduate. He said he plans on hanging his diploma on his wall at home. The Alhambra Unified School District also celebrated Sams' achievement on Facebook, days after the ceremony, calling him "an unofficial member" of SGHS class of 2022.
Representational Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Barry Austin Photography