To most kids and their parents, it seems like forever from the first day of kindergarten to the last day of their senior year in high school - 2,340 days to be exact, if you count 180 school days a year - and along the way, most students usually miss a few days.
Rarely students do go all the way from kindergarten through the end of their senior year without missing at least one day of school. However, this year, three local students reached that goal.
Danny Nelson of Bellwood, Seth Marasco of Altoona and Rebecca Bosak of Hollidaysburg have all gone from kindergarten through high school without any days absent, according to their high school records.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski / Bellwood-Antis High School Principal Lisa Hartsock talks about plants with senior Danny Nelson in the FFA greenhouse at the school. Nelson was recognized for having perfect attendance from kindergarten through his senior year.
Photo for the Mirror by Mary Haley / Rebecca Bosak (left), who had perfect attendance from kindergarten to her senior year, talks about her college plans with Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School Principal Joan Donnelly in the school lobby.
Photo for the Mirror by Mary Haley / Altoona Area High School Principal Patty Burlingame talks with senior Seth Marasco near the school’s lion statue. Marasco will receive a special award at the Senior Assembly for never missing a day of school in 13 years.
"I always liked being around my friends, and I liked my teachers,'' Nelson said.
The state Department of Education doesn't keep attendance figures, nor does the Appalachia Intermediate Unit 8, which provides educational services to schools in the region, said representatives of the two groups.
A quick check of school districts in Blair and surrounding counties showed that none of the districts had students who had perfect attendance from kindergarten through senior high in recent memory except: Bishop McCort Catholic High School had one, Claysburg-Kimmel had two, one in the 1970s and one 10 years ago, and Penn-Cambria High School had one.
The only time Nelson ever missed school was when his mother had to leave town because of a family emergency. The family had to go to Pittsburgh when a close family member had to have open-heart surgery. Nelson left school at 1:30 p.m. one day in his senior year.
Principal Lisa Hartsock, who has been an administrator at Bellwood-Antis for six years and an educator for 23 years, said she's seen other students come close to Danny's achievement of having perfect attendance in high school. But she's never seen another student go all the way through from kindergarten through senior high without missing any days.
Danny's mother, Daniell Lewis of Bellwood, said her son had his mind made up by the time he came home from first grade that he would never miss school. Danny, 17, who would like to go into computer programming and is an avid skateboarder, is also the son of Mark Ash of Bellwood.
"I never had to get him up; he was always up and ready to go out the door,'' Lewis said. "He's always been independent.''
Seth Marasco, 18, who is the son of Michele and Tom Marasco of Altoona, said he decided after receiving an award after finishing sixth grade without missing any school that he wanted to try to make it all the way.
His mother applauded his efforts because as a teacher at Tyrone Area High School, she knows the value of good attendance. But she said the idea of trying to not miss any days at all came from Seth.
"This was all about him and something he wanted to accomplish,'' Michele said.
The mother and son talked about one of the biggest choices Seth made to keep his perfect attendance record. Seth had the chance to see his favorite football team, the Dallas Cowboys, play when he was in 10th grade. Needless to say, they didn't go to Dallas.
"He's made a lot of choices for this, and that one was huge,'' Michele said.
Seth, who plans to attend Penn State Altoona next fall and major in information sciences and technology, agreed that was a tough decision but worth it.
Rebecca Bosak, 18, of Hollidaysburg, who is the daughter of Susan and Robert Bosak, graduated from Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School in Altoona May 23. She plans to attend Shippensburg University and would like to be a social worker.
Joan Donnelly, principal at Bishop Guilfoyle, congratulated Bosak on her attendance record.
"This amazing dedication and commitment to her education is noteworthy and a great accomplishment,'' she said.
Rebecca's mother said she required all of her children to go to school when they were young, so the habit stuck when they got older.
She said school always came first, scheduling doctors' appointments after school and making sure surgeries could be performed when the children were on vacation from school. She recalled that Rebecca had her tonsils removed one Christmas Eve, so that she could recover during the holiday break from school.
"I told them: 'You know what? You've got to go to school. You just go,'" she said. "I was just strict that way.''
Rebecca said she was never really tempted to miss any school days, although she admitted there were a few days when she was younger that were a little hard to get up and go in at first. But she said she knew her mom wouldn't let her stay home so she said she never even asked, and after she starting racking up the years without missing, it got easier.
"I don't like missing out on anything, and I don't like making up work,'' Rebecca said.