North Philadelphia great-grandmother graduates high school

- A dream was deferred for 55 years but now a North Philadelphia great-grandmother is able to call herself a high school graduate.

Charlotte "Bootsie" Burkett. initially left school because of an unexpected turn in life; however, she never gave up on getting her degree. Now in her 70's she's celebrating her success.

The last time Charlotte  walked the halls of her  high school, JFK was being sworn in, Elvis topped the music charts and in 1960 pregnant teenagers like her were forced to dropout of school.

 "The most important thing was raising my children," she said.

The  single mom left Simon Gratz High School in the 11th grade- just one and a half credits shy of graduation. But this 71-year-old great-grandmother from North Philly who put her own life on hold to raise her kids was missing one thing.

"My kids graduated. all my grandkids graduated. I said, 'I want my diploma on the wall, too.'"

So Boosties went back to Ben Franklin High School this fall for 3 hours a day. It was enough credits to finally try on that graduation robe she's waited 55 years to wear.

And tonight, Bootsie was among dozens of former dropouts that strolled across the stage like a teenagers to receive their long awaited diplomas.

And right there cheering her on in the front row was  her emotional daughter Antoinette the reason why her mom left school in the first place.

"It means so much to me to see my mother graduate because when she should have been graduating she had me and she wanted us to get our diplomas," she said.

While most of her classmates will be going off to careers and college, this high school senior citizen  plans to travel, relax and yes go to her senior prom.



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