As if a bold headline declaring the impossible weren’t enough, just about one year after the hopeful newspaper report of osteopathic doctor R. F. Robie’s willingness to take on Samuel Bean’s case, the Oakland Tribune was once again heaping hyperbole upon the young man.
This time, the occasion was Sam’s impending graduation from high school. Yes, after a six year course of study, and despite being both blind and deaf, Sam had actually mastered all that was required of a high school student in the State of California and was about to receive his diploma. However, unlike all the other students in California about to receive their diploma that year, on the evening of the exercises at the California School for the Deaf and Blind—May 2, 1919—Sam was twenty three.
It seems the whole city was cheering Sam on—at least, that’s the feeling one can get, reading the headlines leading into the May 11, 1919, Tribune article. Under not one, but three—yes, count them below: three—lines of headlines, Sam was now pronounced “Wonder Student.”
Certified to have “surmounted all obstacles in the pathway of education,” Sam was declared by the Tribune “now ready to fight life’s battles for himself.”
Since this article came almost exactly one year to the day after the announcement about the theorized possibility of restoring Sam’s hearing, the silence about any such success seems to shout almost as loudly. The graduation article emphasizes Sam’s blind and deaf condition as if nothing had changed in the ensuing year.
Noting that “after six years of tireless work mastering all of the required subjects with only his fingers to guide him,” Sam would be “the first student afflicted with both deafness and blindness to be graduated by the school,” the news report reveals there was no change in his condition.
There was still much to celebrate, though. After all, Sam’s “achievement in completing a regular high school [course of study] has been a source of marvel to educators in all parts of the country.”
According to reports received by the Tribune about Sam, “he has fought his battle with a courage and cheerfulness which has given inspiration to many of the more fortunate pupils at the state school.”
Though such hyperbole may seem excessive, no one can deny Sam Bean made a remarkable effort in the face of what, to many others, may have seemed like insurmountable obstacles.