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102-year-old Worcester woman receives honorary high school diploma

WORCESTER, Mass. — With many high school seniors moving on to college and other future endeavors, one Worcester woman is proving it’s never too late to graduate.

102-year-old Antoinette “Ginger” Rinaldi, a lifelong Worcester resident, received an honorary high school diploma on Thursday from Superintendent Rachel Monárrez, the Worcester School Committee, and Mayor Joseph Petty.

Rinaldi was born on January 8, 1921, to Italian immigrants and grew up on Shrewsbury Street, where she still lives to this day.

When she was 12 years old, she worked as a nanny and by the age of 14, she became one of the first women to work at the American Steel and Wire Company. Rinaldi later became a seamstress at Worcester Knitting.

Because she was busy taking jobs to support her family, graduating high school fell by the wayside. Despite her lack of a diploma, Rinaldi has led quite a remarkable life.

She received the American Red Cross Disaster Services Award for helping families affected by the 1999 Cold Storage Fire that killed six Worcester firefighters.

Rinaldi also received the Key to the City of Worcester and the Distinguished Citizen from the Sons and Daughters of Italy.

Her other notable achievements include raising her two sons and developing and coordinating food distribution for the Head Start Program, which provides essential services to Worcester Public Schools’ preschool programs.

Lastly, Rinaldi served as a cafeteria worker at both Forest Grove Junior High School and Doherty Memorial High School.

In addition to all these accolades, Mrs. Rinaldi can now add “high school graduate” to the list.

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