WESTLAKE : Graduate, 72, Yearns to Learn Even More

Chul Ho Lee, 72, has received his high school diploma from Belmont Community Adult School, but he has no intention of resting on his laurels.

His next step? "Study more, of course," Lee said.

Looking scholarly in his blue cap and gown, Lee flashed a wide smile when asked how he felt about his accomplishment.

"This is very exciting," he said. "It's not easy to learn English at my age. My children can't believe it. They never considered it possible, but they are very happy."

Six of the Lees' eight children were able to attend the June graduation ceremony, including four who made the trip from South Korea.

"As far as I know he's the oldest student we've had," said Maria Kahler, assistant principal for adult community services. "Mr. Lee has been a real inspiration to his class. He encourages youngsters to just buckle down."

Not long after Lee, who earned a college degree in South Korea, and his wife, Young Sun, immigrated to the United States in 1987, he began helping out at a friend's market.

"But I couldn't communicate with the customers so I decided to give up that job and just study English," Lee said. After a few years of English study, he enrolled in the Belmont adult school classes in April, 1992, and earned more than enough credits for his diploma.

A devoted student, Lee said he rises each day at 4:30 to study English. But mathematics is his favorite subject.

"Mr. Lee promised to come back to help tutor students in our math lab," said Keith Stovall, one of his teachers. "He was a math teacher in Korea."

After a vacation on the East Coast, Lee will resume his studies at a community college.

"I will never give up studying," he said.

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