CHS graduate receives diploma after 50 years

| June 2, 2016
Mike Newell received his high school diploma after 50 years on May 29 at Coshocton High School's graduation ceremony. Contributed | Beacon

Mike Newell received his high school diploma after 50 years on May 29 at Coshocton High School’s graduation ceremony. Contributed | Beacon

COSHOCTON – In 1966 the war in Vietnam was starting to heat up and Mike Newell had no doubt in his mind that he was going to end up in the service after he graduated from high school.

“It was 100 percent certain that you were going to get drafted out of high school especially if you didn’t have the funds to go on to college, which I didn’t,” he said.

Newell, who was a senior at Coshocton High School in 1966, had his guidance councilor Jim Lawrence set up a meeting with a recruiter from the United States Marine Corps.

“At that time they had a deferment plan where if you enlisted in the last quarter of your senior year you would graduate with your class, but ship out to boot camp during graduation,” Newell said. “I signed the papers to do that.”

He spent two years in Vietnam, but was wounded by shrapnel the second time he was there and was sent back to the United States.

“I never did receive my diploma,” Newell said. “I wondered why it wasn’t mailed to me, but back then they didn’t have computers so I’m sure the paper work got shuffled around.”

His classmates Rick Merrell and Tad Johnson decided their 50th class reunion this past Memorial Day weekend was the perfect time to make sure Newell finally got his diploma.

“I have to give them credit because when they found out they pursued it,” Newell said. “They couldn’t find the records with the school so they then went to the Marine Corps. and found them there.”

Part of the class’ 50th reunion weekend included taking part in the 138th graduation at Coshocton High School on May 29, which is where Newell was surprised with his diploma.

“The superintendent called me up and I didn’t have a clue what he wanted to talk about,” Newell said. “I thought maybe it was about the Vietnam War or how I was in high school.”

He was totally shocked when they gave him his high school diploma.

“I always wanted my diploma, but I just went on to lots of other things,” Newell said. “I’ve been successful, but this completes the whole cycle to get my diploma 50 years later and gradate with the class of 2016. It was amazing. I have to thank the school board, Rick, Tad and all my classmates.”

Newell lives in Navarre, Fla. now, but says Coshocton will always be his hometown.

“I was born and raised there and love everyone up there,” he said. “My biggest achievement in Coshocton was the night club Mickey’s. We had a lot of fun there and were able to bring people in like Chubby Checker and Boxcar Willie.”

Newell also was able to retire from being a charter boat captain and get his 20 years in the Marine Corps, despite being wounded in Vietnam.

“I enlisted for a career and the Marine Corps was really good to me,” he said. “I’ve been very successful in everything I’ve done, but I couldn’t ask for a better ending after 50 years than to receive my diploma. It was the best thing that ever happened to me. It was a great (reunion) weekend and I’ll never forget it.”

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Category: Education

About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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