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3 students graduate without missing a school day in 13 years
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Nicolas Anderson, Cameron Collins and Amir Goodger had perfect attendance throughout 13 years of school. - photo by David Barnes

Earning any distinction that includes the word “perfect” takes focus and effort. To earn that recognition for more than a decade takes an even stronger commitment, as well as endurance.

Nicolas Anderson, Amir Goodger and Cameron Collins displayed all those characteristics, graduating from high school without missing a day of school — in 13 years.

“It was hard,” said Anderson, a Gainesville High graduate.  

He admitted there were some close calls.

“One time I was having a migraine in fourth grade, I think,” he said. “I had strep in seventh grade, and two other times I had migraines, too.”

So, why did he go to school on those days?

“My mom just made me,” Anderson said. “She kind of forced me to do it in elementary school and middle school. In ninth grade, she asked me if I wanted to keep on going with it. I said, ‘I might as well keep on going.’ I’m kind of glad she did so I can say I did it now.”

Anderson, who was recognized at a Gainesville City Schools board meeting last week for his accomplishment, plans to attend North Carolina Central University in Durham, N.C., this fall on a track scholarship. He said his accomplishment has taught him that “I can do anything I put my mind to doing.”

Goodger, who graduated from West Hall High, said he didn’t really have any close calls that almost caused him to miss a day of school.

“I don’t get sick as much; I have a strong immune system,” Goodger said. “I love learning. I love reading. Usually, I go to school to learn something new. I was just dedicated to going to school.”

Goodger went to kindergarten in Maryland before coming to Hall County, where he attended Centennial Arts Academy and Flowery Branch Elementary before West Hall middle and high schools.

“It’s difficult,” he said of earning perfect attendance for all 13 years. “Eventually, it gets easy because it becomes a habit. You get up, you go to school, repeat.”

Goodger said he didn’t realize that he was on track to perfect attendance until his senior year.

“I don’t really keep track of that,” he said.

He plans to study computer science at the University of North Georgia in the fall.

A graduate of North Hall High in May, Collins said he first thought about earning perfect attendance for all 13 years when he saw a student recognized for the same feat at his sister’s high school graduation. He was starting middle school that fall.

“I realized I’ve already done this six years now, and I figured I need a goal to aspire to every morning,” Collins said. “When you’re growing up and you have a mother who works in the school system, basically you have to show up every single day anyway. You are able to set a goal to achieve something in 13 years that not a lot of kids get to say. It kept me motivated.”

He said he didn’t have days when he was too sick to go to school

“I always got sick on Christmas breaks and Thanksgiving breaks,” Collins said. “I was the one in the bed with the flu all the time on holidays. I never got sick on the school days. I would feel a little rough, but I would tough it up and keep going.”

But he did have some close calls, including one during his junior year.

“I would be the only one at home some days, and I would be the only one to wake myself up,” Collins said. “There was a time when the alarm clock wouldn’t go off. I would try to wake up at 7:30 and eight o’clock rolls around and I get about 20 million phone calls from my father and my mother. Finally, I wake up and see that it’s 8:10 and I have to be in school in 10 minutes and my house is 10 minutes away from the school. I jumped out the bed and went to school without a shower. That was the closest it ever got.”

He said his motivation was challenged at the end of his senior year.

“Senioritis kicked in and I found out this year that one alarm clock wasn’t enough,” he said. “I had to set two or three. In the last few days it was a lot harder.”

He even attended final exams he was exempt from just so he wasn’t counted absent for the day.

“Even in my senior year, I would have to show up for my exam even though I didn’t have to take it,” Collins said. “I would just sit there and read books or else try to make other productive use of my time.”

All three students said they hope to keep their perfect attendance streak going in college.