Veteran from New Jersey finally receives high school diploma after 70 years
A veteran from Hoboken has finally graduated from high school after seven decades.
Frank Rongo's story started in Hoboken at what used to be known as AJ Demarest High School, and 70 years later as he finally got his chance to walk across the graduation stage.
The 86-year-old should have graduated high school in 1951. But when his father became ill and passed away, Rongo decide to drop out and start working to help his family make ends meet.
“For my mom. I felt good about it, for helping her any way that I could,” Rongo says.
Rongo’s grandson, Robert Bost, reached out to the Hoboken School District and simply shared his grandfather's story in the hope of getting a response and an opportunity for his grandfather to return to school.
“Every year for the last 29 years, my grandpa here was telling me how much he regretted having to leave high school,” Bost says. “He served his country, he worked hard his whole life. He just never had the opportunity to go back and finish it.”
Hoboken School Superintendent Dr. Christine Johnson obliged and agreed to award Rongo an honorary high school diploma.
“We wanted to do this for him last year. But with COVID we just weren’t able to,” Johnson says. “In a lot of ways, the resilience that Mr. Rongo had for all these years back then and now, it’s kind of what the kids went through this year. And so, what a great year to give an honorary diploma.”
Rongo says that he next plans to go skydiving later this summer with his grandson.