100-year-old former student receives honorary FHS diploma

Jacquelina Barraco holds her honorary Fordson diploma while wearing a graduation cap and tassel on her 100th birthday on Nov. 25, 2020. She is at a window in her home reacting to family members offering their well wishes outside her window.

Jacquelina Barraco was a teenager living in a country and world suffering through hard times when she started, and then left school, at Fordson High School.

It was the mid 1930s, and everyone was trying to survive the Great Depression.  Barraco attended 9th grade at Fordson, but then her father made her quit school and get a job to help support the family.  She was the oldest of seven children. She always regretted not finishing high school, said her granddaughter Erin King.

Now known as Jacqueline Junker, her family was looking for a special way to help celebrate her 100th birthday on Nov. 25 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

So working with Fordson High School, they arranged for her to receive an honorary diploma.  Fordson also provided her a shirt with 2020 on it and a graduation cap and tassel.  Fordson Principal Heyam Alcodray officially “presented” the diploma to Junker via Zoom on her birthday.

“She was extremely thankful,” Alcodray said.

Family gathered outside Junker’s home for her birthday holding signs to celebrate both her birthday and the diploma.