Teacher fulfills six-year promise to Islands valedictorian

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It’s that time again where people are gathering all over the world to celebrate the Class of 2018.

Thousands are reflecting on what memories led up to graduation.

While some measure in years, one Islands High School senior is measuring in inches.

Back in sixth grade at Coastal Middle School, Tripp Parsons asked his math teacher, Brian Patenaude, when he was going to shave his ‘unsightly’ beard.

Patenaude replied, “When you become valedictorian.”

As the year passed by, both forgot about the promise made at school that day, until recently when it was announced who would be valedictorian for Islands High School.

You guessed it: Tripp Parsons.

The same young man who had open-heart surgery four days after birth who didn’t know what the word ‘valedictorian’ meant when he entered high school.

Now, 19 years later, he’ll stand before his class on Wednesday as the head of his class.

Back at Coastal Middle School, the news triggered a memory for Patenaude. He called Parsons to come over and reminded him of their bet.

Parsons calls Patenaude a ‘man of his word’ and true to it, he is keeping his promise.

On Sunday, after more than two thousand days, he is set to shave off his beard.

“I need to find out what’s under my beard. It’s been 2,432 days since I”ve had a razor dragged across my face,” Patenaude said.

The plan is to shave before Wednesday’s graduation ceremony. Patenaude, an Army veteran, told Parsons it was his turned to grow a beard, but the senior had other plans.

“Well, I told him he could grow it out and shave it when I get my doctorate,” he said.

Parsons is headed to the Armstrong campus of Georgia Southern University with the goal of becoming a medical missionary.

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