SAD 75 offers diplomas to World War II, Korea, Vietnam veterans

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TOPSHAM — Residents of School Administrative District 75 towns who served in World War II, the Korean Conflict or the Vietnam Era and had to leave high school before graduation now have the chance to receive honorary diplomas.

The state Legislature passed an act in 2011 authorizing the granting of diplomas to Vietnam veterans. Previously such diplomas were available only for veterans of World War II and Korea.

The SAD 75 School Board approved its own policy for veterans of all three events earlier this year.

“The intent is to recognize that there are (former) members of the armed services who, during those times of war, left and did not finish high school in order to serve their country,” Superintendent of Schools Brad Smith said last week.

He noted that the law stipulates that a person had to leave school in order to serve in the military during those periods, as opposed to dropping out of school and going into the service at a later time.

“It’s a way to honor those people … and the service that they gave to the country, by awarding them a high school diploma,” Smith said. “… They really pay a price to serve in the armed services, so I think (awarding the diplomas) is a very appropriate gesture.”

The superintendent comes from Washington state, which has a similar law. Based on that experience, he said he is not expecting a huge line to his office from eligible individuals.

“We only had one veteran who actually ever applied,” he said. “… I don’t anticipate that we’ll get a whole lot of veterans applying for it, but we certainly would want to honor anyone who did.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.