When Clement Thibault left Rumford, Maine to enlist in the Navy in February of 1944, he walked away from his high school education. Now, 68 years later, he has been awarded his high school diploma from Bellows Free Academy in Fairfax through the High School Diplomas for Veterans program.
Mr. Thibault, now 86 and living in Westford, served aboard the USS Pasadena during World War II. This 10,000 ton battleship escorted aircraft carriers as they hit targets in the Phillipines and the South China Sea. From February to May of 1945, they provided gunfire support to capture Iwo Jima and Okinawa. In September of 1945, the USS Pasadena was present in Tokoyo Bay when the Japanese formally surrendered to end World War II.
After the war, Mr. Thibault returned to Rumord, Maine to work in the paper mill. He and his wife, Paulette, raised three children. HIs family recently inquired about him receiving his service medals and learned about the High School Diplomas for Veterans program. Veterans can choose to receive their diploma from any high school in the state in which they are living. Mr. Thibault’s daughter, Ann, said there was never any question that the high school they would choose would be Bellows Free Academy in Fairfax. Ann’s son and Mr. Thibault’s grandson, Jamison Potvin, graduated from BFA Fairfax in 1999. “We love that school,” stated Ann.
On Thursday, November 15th, at a ceremony in the Cedar Creek Room at the state house in Montpelier, not only did Mr. Thibault receive two service medals but he was also awarded his high school diploma. Elaine Carpenter, Chair of the Fairfax Board of School Directors, awarded the diploma. “It was such an honor to be present for this ceremony and to give Mr. Thibault his diploma”, stated Elaine. “This is a great program for our veterans.”
If you are interested in learning more about the High School Diplomas for Veterans program, you can contact the Vermont Office of Veteran’s Affairs at their toll free number (888) 666-9844, or visit their website at veterans.vermont.gov/ova .