High school senior joining the Marines gets his own graduation ceremony days before the rest of his class

high school senior, leaving to join the Marines, thought he’d have to miss his graduation ceremony. But his school made sure he didn’t and arranged to have him graduate before the rest of his class.

Hipolito Garcia, a senior at Hackensack High School, N.J., is leaving for the Marine Corps boot camp in Parris Island, South Carolina, on Monday — the day before his high school’s graduation. However, he was already handed his diploma in front of his family, friends and classmates on Friday — during the school’s rehearsal — when he was given permission to put on his hat and gown in a solo ceremony.

“He’s doing something great, so I thought we should do something great for him,” Patricia Lozano, an assistant principal at Hackensack High School told NJ.com.

Lozano shared with northjersey.com that Garcia served as a strong example for other students, showing that it’s possible to balance academic performance with work and still be successful and surpass expectations.

“He sacrificed a lot, and it’s a good example for our students to see this,” Lozano, who did not immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment, told northjersey.com. “Sometimes we don’t get rewarded for all the struggles and challenges we have, so we wanted to show them how hard work pays off.”

Garcia, with his parents and siblings, immigrated to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic in 2017, after which he learned how to speak English fluently and went on to graduate with a high GPA. He took on jobs alongside his studies so that he’d be able to support himself instead of relying on his grandparents, whom he had moved in with.

“He has carried a 3.8 GPA and was involved in several clubs and activities,” school principal Jim Montesano tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “We have not done something like this before but he was such an important part of our school community that the students and staff wanted to send him off with honors!”

In the Friday ceremony, Garcia is seen throwing his cap up into the air with a huge smile — while friends and family cheered him on.

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