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Cleveland kidnap victims receive honorary diplomas

CLEVELAND -- Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, two of the three women held captive in a Cleveland home for about a decade before escaping in May 2013, have received honorary high school diplomas, according to the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

The two women wore white caps and gowns as they participated in John Marshall High school's graduation ceremony at Cleveland State University's Wolstein Center Wednesday.

Amanda Berry, left, Gina DeJesus, center, and Michelle Knight, right, pictured here in photos taken before their disappearances. AP/FBI/Family Handout

"Although the journey may have been interrupted, it's never too late to finish the race," school principal Tiffany James said just before the women walked across the stage to receive their diplomas to claps and cheers.

Amanda Berry was a student at the high school when she was abducted by Ariel Castro on April 21, 2003, just before she turned 17, according to the school district. Gina DeJesus was 14 when Castro abducted her as she walked home from the Wilbur Wright Middle School on April 2, 2004.

She would have attended John Marshall, according to the school district.

Michelle Knight was also held captive by Castro in the home of Cleveland's west side. She was 21 when she was kidnapped on Aug. 23, 2002.

Castro pleaded guilty to 937 counts including aggravated murder, kidnapping, rape and assaultin a plea deal that spared him from the death penalty. He was sentenced in August of 2013 to life in prison without the possibility of parole, plus 1,000 years.

He was found dead in his jail cell of an apparent suicide about a month later.