OREGON, Ohio — High school graduation day is supposed to be one of the best and most memorable moments of a kid's life.
But for one local student, that was almost stripped away from her at the very last minute.
Maria Pattin, 18, is set to graduate from Cardinal Stritch Catholic High School in Oregon this Sunday. But go back just 24 hours and this would be a very different story.
"She's fantastic," said Kevin Mullan, vice president of advancement at Cardinal Stritch. "She's a perfect representative of what it means to be a part of the Cardinal family."
"She participated in everything," Angela's mother, Maria Pattin, said. "She's done robotics, she's done basketball, track, their musical that they have, she loves their choir. That's one of the reasons she picked the school because they have a choir and she loves to sing."
There were no complaints from Angela about her daughter's experience at Cardinal Stritch. But there were certainly obstacles.
Most recently, Maria's father suffered an aneurysm a few months ago, hospitalizing him and forcing Angela to become his caretaker, which took away her ability to work.
"[The school] said, 'Any way we can help, just let us know.' So I'm thinking OK, great, my kids can still go, there won't be a problem," Angela recalled.
There was one way the school could help, in fact.
It's no surprise a private school's tuition isn't cheap. So Angela approached the school's administrators, hat in hand, with what she could offer.
"I know I can start off with the $50 in a month," she said. "[Fr. Eric Schild] said, 'OK, you'll get $50 in by the end of every month and $150 to catch up for December, January and February and we'll let her graduate.'"
Angela said she held up her end of the bargain but claimed the school told her that Maria still couldn't walk across the stage at graduation or be able to access her transcript to share with her college.
"I don't think that I deserve it at all," Maria said. "Like I've done everything I was supposed to do. I've gotten over-involved. I deserve to celebrate with my friends."
As of Tuesday, she wasn't eligible to graduate because the family still had about a $5,000 balance. So WTOL stepped in to help.
"The family still has a tremendous balance that we're working with them to make good on," Mullan said. "But we also wanted to make sure that Maria, who's worked very hard for four years, got the opportunity to graduate."
Now, Maria will get to join her classmates on stage this Sunday, thanks to another payment from Mom on Tuesday.
In the fall, Maria plans to attend Lourdes University in pursuit of a nursing career.