Two thousand, five hundred and thirty-five. That's how many times Jason Lanfair of Queensbury, N.Y., headed off to school in the 14 years between kindergarten and his graduation. There wasn't a day the world of school went on without him.
Jason and many of his perfect-attendance counterparts in the class of 2000 around the US are being showered with certificates and awards. But theirs is the kind of achievement that probably can't be chalked up to these modest incentives. There must be some other motivation - a love of school and extracurricular activities, a particular family ethic, or just a drive for a "perfect" record.
For most students, missing some school days is unavoidable for a variety of reasons. Other times, parents have an alternative learning experience to offer.
But the few who latch on to perfect attendance as a goal, and manage to resist the temptations along the way, offer inspiring examples of discipline and sacrifice. (Imagine being a teenage girl and skipping a Ricky Martin concert because it's on a school night.)
One of these students said that focusing on school when she felt a little ill helped her feel better. For others, perfect attendance is a family thing. Jason's father, for instance, achieved it 33 years ago, the Associated Press reported.
The final days of school can be a time when straight-A students and practiced truants find common ground outside school borders. So it's laudable that, along with celebrating a year's worth of good grades and sports victories, educators also give a pat on the back to kids whose "everyday" accomplishments spanned more than a decade.
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society