BEECH BOTTOM, W.Va. – Ninety-five-year-old Pete Lonchar said he always has regretted dropping out of high school, though his situation made it hard to stay in school.
Not receiving a high school diploma was something that has bothered the Weirton native and resident of Valley Haven Geriatric Center for many years, so finally receiving one was a special moment.
Sara Johnson, a speech-language pathologist at the long-term care and skilled facility, said for Lonchar, it was not enough to receive the diploma.
He also wanted to work for it.
“He told me he wanted to feel equal to the people he would have graduated with,” Johnson said.
Karen Shilling, who is social service director and admission coordinator at Valley Haven, said Johnson prepared daily assignments in English, math and science for Lonchar.
“He’s been working really, really hard. He’s been doing homework and honing his cognitive skills,” she said.
“I tried to work hard at it. I had a very good teacher,” said Lonchar of Johnson, who said she once aspired to be a teacher.
Meanwhile Shilling contacted Dan Enich, principal at Weir High School, about the possibility of a diploma being awarded to Lonchar. She said Enich and Frances Games, a secretary at the school, were supportive and helpful from the start…