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'I feel proud': Grandma graduates from high school 47 years later
After 47 years, a central Alberta woman has graduated high school with her grandson.
Heidi Cowell dropped out of high school in 1972, one month before she was supposed to graduate.
“I was in Grade 12 and the times were a lot different in those days," said Cowell. "I got engaged in January and was getting married that summer."
Last year, after some encouragement from the teachers at North Cottage High School, she made the decision to head back to the classroom.
“It was something that I didn’t think was going to happen and I knew that it was something I wanted to do, but I didn’t know how important it was until it happened," Cowell said. "I think I feel proud.”
Some of her classmates made it even more special. Cowell was able to attend school with all three of her grandsons, and she graduated with her grandson Carter.
“It was incredible," Carter said. "Not many people have such a close relationship with their grandparents and let alone being able to go to school with them. It’s just a great experience."
“We just cheered each other on and worked so well together," Cowell said. "It’s just one of the best experiences of my life."
While there was an age gap between her and her classmates, she said it was never an issue.
“From day one, it was just like I fit in. There really has been no age barrier, there wasn’t anybody too old or to young. This is very much a family orientated school, so everyone is family,” Cowell said.
“I never once felt like the old lady. Some of them called me granny, some of them called me by my first name, but they were open armed and communicated really well with me. We’ve cheered each other on and we’ve even shed tears with one another and there’s been a heck of a lot of laughter.”
Carter expected nothing less from his peers.
“Going to school with them for two years before, I knew them, I knew how they would react. My grandma has always been on my friend's good side so I didn’t expect this to be any different,” he said.
Cowell hopes her story will encourage others to follow their dreams.
“Just go for it, because you never know where it might lead you or what the experiences are that you might miss out on.”
The schooling doesn’t stop now for Cowell. She is enrolled in college courses to become and Educational Assistant (EA) and has already been hired on by Red Deer Public Schools as a substitute.