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Lester Hartman, 103, of Wyomissing, received his high school diploma on Sept. 22 from his alma mater, Hamburg Area High School. Hartman was unable to finish high school during the Great Depression.
A small group of Hamburg Area High School students accompanied Hamburg Area High School Principal Christopher Spohn on a trip to The Highlands in Wyomissing. Singers performed the alma mater and other selections during the special ceremony honoring Hartman who received an honorary Hamburg High School Diploma.
Eight students from Aerial Boundaries, which is an auditioned group of singers, participated in the ceremony.
“Their role was to give the gift of singing as part of the ceremony,” said Hamburg music teacher Sara Jackson. “Our singers stood directly in front of Lester, his sister Alma, and his girlfriend of 19 years, Peggy. An intimate concert and ceremony.”
Jackson said the Aerial Boundaries students performed the “Hamburg Alma Mater” because it was a mini graduation ceremony, “The Caisson Song” (Army Song) because Lester served in the Army, and “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree” which is a love song made popular during WWII.
“I believe Lester felt important, valued, and respected for his strong work ethic and dedication to his family and our country,” said Jackson.
Hamburg senior Richard Griffin, who attended that day, said, “The awards ceremony was so sweet, and I think I’ll remember it forever. Giving something so important to someone, and making that experience impact them makes me feel like I really made a difference.”
Eileen Deisemann, also a Hamburg senior, said, “This experience bettered myself as well as everyone else because it demonstrated that sacrifice can still lead to reward. I am filled with overwhelming joy for Lester and this amazing accomplishment of his.”