courtesy of Barbara Hatch
Veteran Paul Helvey holds his diploma from Cactus Shadows High School. He graduated with the class of 2014 on May 22.
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Veteran Paul Helvey graduates with CSHS class
Staff Report~ 5/28/2014
CAVE CREEK – Veteran Paul Helvey is now an official high school graduate.
Helvey left high school to join the Navy in the mid-1950s. A large military influence in his family motivated this Pinckneyville, Illinois boy to enlist at the age of 17 before he finished high school.
Serving as a boiler tender on the USS Pittsburgh CA-72 and the USS Toledo, Helvey achieved the rank of Boiler Tender 2nd Class as his ship cruised the Asian coast near China after the Korean War. By the time he returned from service, he was “too old” to return to high school.
On May 22, Helvey finally received that long-coveted diploma by a unanimous vote of Cactus Shadows’ Senior Class. The first graduate across stage, dressed in a blue business suit and service hat, a Class of 2014 medallion around his neck, Helvey shook the hands of Principal Bebee and Board member Susan Clancy. The entire class of 2014 gave him a standing ovation.
As the graduates came on stage to receive their diplomas, students walked over to congratulate him. One young man walked over to Helvey to tell him he was also going into the Navy.
Veterans Heritage Project, which started at Cactus Shadows High School in 2004, has published the stories of over 817 veterans in the past 10 years. Ten of its seniors graduated on Thursday. Connecting students with veterans – VHP’s mission – enabled these young people to meet a serviceman who had not had the opportunity to receive his diploma but had not given up on this goal.
CSHS students were proud to share their day with this Navy man.