With almost 11 years of school under their belt, two East Valley students look to finish up one more year before graduating with perfect attendance. That’s not just high school, but since they started in first grade in the Chandler Unified School District shortly after the turn of the century.
Chandler High School junior Alexandra Palmatier and Hamilton High School junior Darby Vance, both 17, see no reason to give up their perfect records for a pesky little thing like college searches.
“It’s all about time management,” Palmatier says. Besides, during school breaks she takes a few minutes “here and there” to fill out applications and do research on perspective colleges.
Vance also manages his time by doing online research and planning campus tours during breaks and days off.
In grade school, Vance received candy and coupon incentives at the end of each school year. By his third year, his parents figured out that he had never missed a day. After that, they encouraged him to maintain his record.
“I’ve been sick, but pushed through it,” Vance says. “I would be heartbroken if I missed a day.”
Lead by example, Vance’s sister Chance, 15, has also never missed a day of school. Now a freshman at Hamilton, his younger sibling feels that she is ahead of her fellow classmates in the running for college and employment.
“It helps you get a job and be responsible,” she says. “(Prospective employers) know that you are what you say you are.”
Palmatier is following her mother, Gail Palmatier’s example. She graduated high school with perfect attendance and expects her daughter to do the same.
“You can’t learn if you’re not there,” she says.
There are many benefits to never missing a day of school, according to Vance and Palmatier. There is never any catching up to do, making it easier to achieve higher grades and it looks good on resumes.
Both are enrolled in Advanced Placement (AP) courses and participate in numerous extracurricular activities.
Palmatier takes voice lessons and plays the violin, piano and guitar. She also fundraises for the Chandler Center for the Arts.
Vance volunteers at animal shelters and is a member of the AVID and Key clubs.
The two say they have gone to school while feeling under the weather, but mostly get sick during breaks.
Chandler district discourages students from going to school if they have at least one of 11 ailments, including a fever higher than 100 degrees, persistent cough, nausea, vomiting, pink eye and head lice, according to district spokesman Terry Locke.
“We encourage (students) to go even if they aren’t feeling well, but not if they’re actually ill,” Locke says. “It will affect the student’s ability to learn and the attendance of other students and staff.”
In some Chandler schools, students who complete a year of school without missing a day receive an award certificate. However, there isn’t a district-wide policy encouraging perfect attendance.
Though neither Palmatier nor Vance likes the idea of missing school for any reason, they occasionally need excused absences for school trips and other academic events.
If Palmatier missed a day of school for any other reason she says it would be “the most boring 12 hours of (her) life.”
However devastating the thought of missing a day is to Vance, he would fill his leisure time by playing games and hanging out with friends, he says. Vance’s sister would sleep late and also hang out with friends.
• Angela Piazza, a senior studying journalism at Arizona State University, is an intern for the East Valley Tribune. Contact her at (480) 898-6514 or firstname.lastname@example.org