When Golden Valley High School senior Joshua Santiago receives his diploma at graduation on Thursday, May 30, he can tout an achievement seldom seen, according to school officials: the culmination of a perfect attendance streak that started on his first day of kindergarten.
From attending class at Canyon Springs Elementary, to completing his junior high school requirements at La Mesa, to finishing all four years at Golden Valley, he has never missed a single day of school, according to him and his mother.
“I was never really sick,” said Santiago. “At some point, at my house, we were like, ‘Alright we’re going to get you up to perfect attendance.’ And it just kind of continued on ’til it did happen.”
Santiago said the trick to him getting the perfect attendance was that when he felt a cough or something coming along, he would push himself to make it to the weekend — partly from his choice, partly from his mom’s encouragement.
“Spring break, I think I got sick (those weeks), as well,” said Santiago. “At La Mesa, my English teacher did mention it, but no one really mentioned it here at Golden Valley.”
Santiago said that the occasional teacher would give him special recognition for having the streak, but he didn’t try to draw too much attention to it. When it came to his friends, he never really mentioned it to them and they never really brought it up. However, that doesn’t change how he feels about it.
“I’m really proud of it,” Santiago said.
William S. Hart Union High School District Superintendent Vicki Engbrecht said that while the district’s policy has always been that students are expected to be at school — excusing times when there’s a crisis in one’s life or being sick — Santiago’s record seems to be the exception, and not the rule.
“It is extremely rare, in fact. I don’t know of another case in the entire district where it’s been perfect all the way through junior high school and high school,” said Engbrecht. “There are so many draws to your time when you’re in high school, so it’s quite an achievement.”
Santiago says he is going to attend College of the Canyons next year and hopefully transfer to University of California, Santa Barbara, after completing his associate’s degree. When asked if he’ll attempt to continue the streak once he starts college, he said, “We’ll see.”