Delayed Graduation: Senior vets receive high school diplomas |

Delayed Graduation: Senior vets receive high school diplomas

by Maggie O'Neill, Staff Writer

Five Douglas County graduates received diplomas and Tiger T-shirts to the sound of “Pomp and Circumstance,” at Tuesday’s school board meeting.

The five distinguished men were not 18, however. They were veterans of war who had missed out on completing a diploma due to military service.

“This is an extraordinary graduating class,” said Douglas County School District John Soderman.

The men were the first in the state of Nevada to receive diplomas in the state under the Operation Recognition bill passed in the 72nd Nevada Legislature.

“These people in the prime of their lives chose or were chosen to serve their countries,” Soderman said.

He then read a short passage from “The Greatest Generation” written in 1998 by Tom Brokaw.

The news journalist describes the “Greatest Generation” as that group of people who should have been at home enjoying their prime of life but went to war making places like Okinawa and Guadalcanal “a fixed part of American History.”

Soderman said the book had an inscription from “Mom Soderman” about his father Justus Dale Soderman, who served in the South Pacific.

“This is your father’s generation,” she wrote. “The good life we live today is largely their legacy.”

The following individuals shook hands and received congratulations from each school board member on their new diplomas at Tuesday’s ceremony:

— Bob Reddick, a Navy veteran who served in the South Pacific in the Philippine Operations and was discharged in 1952.

— Raymond Brenner, Jr., a Navy veteran who served in the South Pacific on the USS Pensacola and was discharged in 1952.

— Ronald A. Kruse, a Navy veteran who was part of the Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape School or SERE. He was discharged in 1973.

— Dominic Tanzi, Jr., a Marine Corp veteran who served in the South Pacific and was discharged in 1945.

— Robert Berard, a Navy veteran who served in the South Pacific on the USS Rupertus and was discharged in 1952.

— Not present at the service, but also receiving a diploma was J.C. Roberts, an Army veteran who served at the Army War College in Washington, D.C., and was discharged in 1947.

The floor was then opened to anyone present to comment.

“I’d like to thank all the people here today to make this possible,” said Kruse, a graduate.

More than 260,000 veterans live in Nevada, he said.

“This is a nice place to retire, a nice place to live and a nice place to work.”

American Legion representative Ron Gutzman, who worked on Nevada legislature approval of the bill, thanked Soderman and the school board for its support.

“Life gets in the way of going back to get (a diploma),” he said.

After additional comments from board members, a large sheet cake was cut to end the ceremony. The graduates had their pictures taken. A news channel crew from Reno was present.

In other news at Tuesday’s meeting of board members:

— Unanimously approved consent items on the agenda, including one to re-open bidding for replacement of Pau-Wa-Lu lockers damaged in the liquid mercury incident in January.

— Heard Marty Swisher, principal of Carson Valley Middle School, speak about the school improvement plan, including progress on English as a Second Language programs.

— Listened to a report from Lisa Fontana, the district’s director of curriculum, about opportunities for advanced studies, including the Gifted and Talented program, honors courses and advanced placement classes.

— Were updated by Soderman in his superintendent’s report that the Nevada Education Foundation is “alive and well.”

Soderman also said he attended a Western Nevada Community college board meeting and that the school district is looking into an ROTC, or Reserve Officer’s Training Corp, program.

— Heard from Roy Casey, education services director, about the administrative regulation for earning credits outside the school district and from Rick Kester, business services directors, about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPPA, and compliance matters.

— Approved transferring $100,00 from the self-insured health fund to the general fund.

— Approved the 2004-05 budget and scheduled a public hearing on it, as required by law, for Wednesday, May 19.

n Maggie O’Neill can be reached at mo’ or (775) 782-5121, ext. 214.