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Unusual graduation circumstances spark memories for 1948 Sturgis graduate

Carol Walker (Shaw) graduated from Sturgis High School in 1948. Her graduation was postponed due to the polio epidemic.
Carol Walker (Shaw) graduated from Sturgis High School in 1948. Her graduation was postponed due to the polio epidemic.(KOTA)
Published: May. 15, 2020 at 2:35 PM MDT
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Graduations are an emotional time, for students and their families. Add in the current pandemic and emotions run even higher, but one Sturgis family has walked this stage before.

Carol Walker, a 1948 Sturgis graduate, understands how a virus can change the plans of an entire school.

Walker recalls being allowed into the school building her senior year, being told to collect her things and leave.

She and her classmates wouldn't be coming back. A fellow student had been diagnosed with polio.

"We all went home when they found out there was a polio epidemic," says Walker. "We cleaned out our lockers. I talked to a couple of my classmates and they can't remember when they called us back but we did have a graduation, just for immediate family."

Now, 72 years later, Walker's two great-nieces will be having a 'far from normal' graduation.

Sydney and Kylie Shaw will be a part of Sturgis's "drive-in" graduation ceremony on May 17.

Although this isn't the celebration they planned, the cousins are trying to make the most of it and are grateful for a family member who went through a similar experience.

"It's pretty special because we have a family member that can relate to us," says Sydney Shaw. "She knows what we're going through and what we're feeling."

The family is proud of its 2020 graduates. Sydney is planning to attend the University of South Dakota and study radiology. Kylie is heading to South Dakota State University to pursue a degree in veterinary medicine.

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