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78 years later, Mabel Clarkson gets her diploma from Kingman High

Mabel Clarkson, an honorary graduate at the Kingman High School 2013 graduation ceremony Thursday night, sits with school nurse Marilyn Jenkins.

KINGMAN - It only took 78 years for Mabel Inez Clarkson's dream to finally come true.

Clarkson, 95, walked to the stage in a blue cap and gown Thursday to receive an honorary diploma from Kingman High School. The graduating Class of 2013 chanted "Mabel, Mabel" in support as she finally pocketed what had been denied to her as a senior at KHS in 1935.

"I really don't know what to think of all this," said Clarkson before the ceremony. "I'm excited and nervous and a little bit of everything else. I hope I won't be overwhelmed."

Clarkson made the trip to Kingman from Prescott after her granddaughter, Julie Rogers, discovered Clarkson had never received a diploma and contacted Kingman Unified School District.

Rogers said Clarkson's father was a miner and moved often, staying in Kingman during Clarkson's senior year of high school.

At that time, Arizona required all seniors to take a class about the U.S. Constitution to graduate. Because KHS was giving the class to juniors that year and wouldn't allow Clarkson to join them, she wasn't able to get her diploma.

Clarkson later married and moved to Bagdad, Ariz., raising four daughters and teaching English to the Spanish-speaking men at the mines.

Clarkson began painting with watercolors when she was 89 years old.

"If I can start painting at 89 and graduate at 95, anyone can do it," said Clarkson.

KHS school nurse Marilyn Jenkins escorted Clarkson before and during the graduation, presenting her with a stuffed bulldog and a card signed by the graduating seniors. Jenkins said Clarkson can serve as an inspiration to students who are apathetic about the value of an education.

"I think what she's doing tonight is awesome, and we are thrilled to have her here," said Jenkins. "She's had a great life without a diploma, but despite all the things she's achieved, she still wants that piece of paper. We're very proud of her."

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