With his May 24 graduation a week away, Sikeston High School senior Joseph Walker is determined to finish his K-12 school years with perfect attendance.
"I just want to prove I can do it," Walker said. "Not many people do this."
But the 18-year-old didn't start his elementary school years striving to never miss a day of school. It just happened that way, he said.
"I just thought when school was in session, he needed to go," said Walker's mother Laquita Walker.
One year Walker, who was a student in the Poplar Bluff R-1 School District at the time, earned a free ticket to Six Flags for having perfect attendance all year long.
"I always wanted to go there," Walker said of the trip.
Winning prizes became an incentive to not miss school, and so Walker didn't.
It wasn't until Laquita Walker became a teacher years later that she learned parents were supposed to call the school when their children were sick and not coming, she laughed.
"I never had to do that," she said.
Eventually, not missing school in order to receive rewards at the end of the year evolved into a personal goal for Walker, he said.
And when his senior year of high school began last August, Walker became more determined than ever not to miss school.
"It's been 12 years. I can't blow it," he said.
Walker even opted out of two "senior skip days." The senior said he didn't feel like he missed out on anything by not missing school. It's just the opposite.
"What are you going to do (if you skip school)? Be bored," Walker said.
Being in school also has its advantages, Walker said. By being in class every day, Walker doesn't get lost on assignments especially in the more difficult subjects, like calculus.
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