When Matthew Monteleone walked across the stage at his graduation last week, he had more to celebrate than just his high school diploma.
The Valencia High School senior also earned the unique honor of maintaining a perfect attendance record for 13 years, from kindergarten to 12th grade.
“When I first learned about the award it seemed liked something I wanted to do,” Monteleone said. “I found out about it pretty early in kindergarten or first grade and I was already on track for it.”
As Monteleone moved from Santa Clarita Elementary School to Arroyo Seco Junior High School and Valencia High School, he said a few different factors helped keep him on track and at school every day.
“Both of my parents are teachers and that helped because I was never in a situation where I didn’t have a ride to school because my parents were always on top of it,” he said. “I always had a ride and my parents knew how important education was and they always made sure I could go.”
While he was in school, both of Monteleone’s parents were teachers at schools he attended. His mom taught at Arroyo Seco, which is located directly across the street from Santa Clarita Elementary, and his dad taught at Valencia High School.
“The schools that my parents taught at were always nearby or the schools I went to,” he said. “It’s a unique experience going to school with my parents; it’s a blessing and a curse.”
Monteleone was so dedicated to maintaining his attendance that he even, unknowingly, continued to go to school while he had mononucleosis in sixth grade.
“I was feeling under the weather and was tired all the time and had fever-like symptoms. I remember dozing off in class all the time, but I kept going to school,” he said. “I did blood work and got antibiotics and was all better, but I kept going to school… I had Mono and went to school with Mono.”
When he got older, it was Monteleone’s personal determination that kept him on the right track to maintaining perfect attendance.
“A big part of it was my own motivation to keep going especially when I got to the end of high school,” he said. “It was tempting to miss class or be late especially when Senior Ditch Day came around and all my friends were at the beach and I was at school.”
Worried that a single tardy would ruin his streak, Monteleone was always on time for school and always asked for late pass when he stayed late between classes.
“Little skills helped me get there,” he said.
His personal goal also helped him maintain his grades, complete his homework, write his essays and study for tests on time; ditching school for a day to get ahead on homework was not an option.
“I would always hear my friends say ‘I wasn’t at school today because I had to write an essay’ or ‘I was avoiding a test I didn’t study for,’” Monteleone said. “I knew I had to keep my grades up because there was no avoiding those deadlines.”
As he moves on to California State University, Northridge (CSUN) to study cinema and television arts, Monteleone is unsure if he will try to continue his perfect attendance record throughout college.
“I always hear it’s even harder than high school so it would be in my best interest to go to school every day,” he said.
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