Lanark, Ont. man, 84, earns high school diploma

Gordon Wallbank, 84, of Lanark, Ont. earned his Ontario Secondary School Diploma in 2021. (Photo courtesy of the Upper Canada District School Board)

The Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) is celebrating the graduation of one of its students, an 84-year-old man who has earned his high school diploma.

Gordon Wallbank lives in Lanark, Ont. He has three daughters, seven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. The UCDSB says Wallbank decided last summer to earn his Ontario Secondary School Diploma and he officially did it last month.

Wallbank dropped out of school in Grade 9 so that he could get a job. The educational pursuits of his family members spurred him to finally finish high school all these decades later.

“All around me, I’ve been surrounded by people who have done well in school. I thought, well I think I’d better do something about this,” Wallbank said in a press release. “Education wasn’t a priority like it is today. But when I decided to go back, I had a lot of encouragement from my family.”

He enrolled with the TR Leger School of Adult and Continuing Education in September. His life experience earned him several credits and he was able to obtain the four he needed to graduate. Fractions proved to be his biggest challenge, but it eventually clicked.

“I had a problem with fractions, and one of the teachers worked with me intensely, and finally I saw the light and was able to do them,” he said. “All of the instructors were very helpful, and they would work with me until we got the problem solved.”

Wallbank worked for the National Film Board of Canada for 33 years before retiring in 1994. He moved to Lanark in 1999 and drove a school bus until 2019.

He is now encouraging everyone to get an education.

“Stay in school as you need it for your future. It’s there for a reason and gives you a good start.”