Charles Michel: Member of Class of 1953 finally getting his diploma from Roger Bacon High School

CINCINNATI – Charles Michel's diploma has been sitting in a file cabinet at Roger Bacon High School for 61 years, just waiting for this moment.

When the school holds graduation for the Class of 2014 Friday night, one member of the Class of 1953 will be there to finally pick up his sheepskin.

"We've got a cap and gown waiting for him, too," said Brandon Cowans, director of admissions.

In 1953, Michel was a senior at Roger Bacon and went through the commencement ceremony. But he was 1.5 credits short of graduating.

Instead of going to summer school, Michel joined the Air Force in the final weeks of the Korean War.

Three years later, still in the Air Force, Michel took the courses he needed to graduate. Roger Bacon's principal, Father Andrew Fox OFM, told him his diploma would be waiting at the school for him to pick up.

But life got in the way, and the diploma waited and waited while Michel married, began a career in sales and had three children and eight grandchildren.

Finally, his daughter, Jan, contacted the school about a month ago. The registrar, Sue Ariss, found Michel's original diploma, signed by Archbishop Karl Alter.

That's why Michel is going through a second graduation ceremony Friday night at the Thomas J. Fogarty Center - one with a special presentation just for him.

"When the principal speaks, he's going to tell the students and guests the story of Mr. Michel,  then he will call Mr. Michel forward," Cowans said. "One of our graduates, Josh Engel, is going to the Air Force Academy in the fall, and he will present the diploma to Mr. Michel."

Principal Steven Schad said Michel demonstrates the power of perseverance.
 
"I hope that this story of this man who has persevered over the years and is now coming full circle and receiving his diploma kind of gives them an idea of what they've accomplished and what this means for them today," Schad said.

Asked if Roger Bacon has any more diplomas from 1953, Cowans laughed and said:

"I don't know. But we keep pretty good files."
 

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