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Mount Si senior is perfect
When it came to school attendance, Mount Si High School senior Erik Alexander took his responsibility seriously. The Mount Si athlete, who will graduate in the top 5 percent of his class, has never missed a day - ever.
From kindergarten through his senior year, Erik has tempered sickness and injury to make it through the 180 days of school each year, amassing a perfect attendance record for each of his 13 years in the Snoqualmie Valley School District No. 410. That is a total of about 2,340 days.
"That's totally Erik," said his mother, Denise. "He's just that type of personality ... He's always been focused and goal-oriented."
At Mount Si, most students have at least one excused absence a year, according to Ginnett Durham, Mount Si's attendance secretary.
Denise and her husband Jim also have a 22-year-old daughter and a 16-year-old son - though good students, neither has a record of perfect attendance.
It just sort of worked out that way from the beginning, Erik explained. Over time, it became a goal to see if he could keep his record in tact.
"I just, once I got going, it was a big deal and then it just kept going," he said about his record. "I like to make sure things are done right."
And health was seemingly on his side, too.
He never got sick during his time at Fall City Elementary School, Chief Kanim Middle School or at Mount Si. In fact, his only serious illness was when he contracted chicken pox from his sister when he was too young to attend school.
"I could never even fake it," he said about being sick as a child. "And when you're older, you're not going to fake being sick."
And, when it came to necessary appointments, sports and vacations, things just seemed to always work out so that Erik didn't have to miss school, Denise said, noting that she did try, without making things too inconvenient, to schedule things around his academic calendar.
However, he had a few near misses along the way.
In fifth grade, a sinus infection almost cut his attendance streak short, but it came upon him on the last day of school before the summer break so he was still able to finish the day.
An after-school foot injury in seventh grade almost challenged his record again, but he was able to get his cast that evening, ensuring that he could attend class the next morning.
A few months ago, he woke up on a Saturday morning with a illness that required medical attention, but by Monday morning he felt well enough to go to school.
"I think it's a worthy pursuit, but it's also unrealistic for most," Denise said. "It really has to fit the personality of the kid, their goals and timing."
"I've had students in the past that have had perfect attendance all the way through high school, this is not the first time, but [Erik's record] is symbolic of one's commitment to their own education and having a strong work ethic," said Mount Si principal Randy Taylor.
Though the school does not honor those with perfect attendance with any special award, Taylor said he would make note of Erik's accomplishment (though not by name) in the speech at the graduation ceremony on June 15 at Mount Si High School.
While there are three other graduating seniors at Mount Si who have also scored a perfect attendance record this year, none can match Erik's record.
"I think that's something to be really proud of," Denise said. "I don't think too many people can make that claim."
Denise credited Erik with the accomplishment of his perfect attendance record, noting that there were probably times over the years when he could have avoided going to school if he'd wanted to.
"He's just not like that at all," Denise said, adding that his family is proud of him.
Erik, who played football, baseball and basketball for Mount Si and received $800 in scholarship money, plans to attend the University of Washington in the fall and would like to pursue a degree in engineering.
He earned the Washington State Honors Award for placing in the top 10 percent of his senior class and was a Washington State Principal's Scholar for being in the top 5 percent of his senior class.
"I guess it's kind of an honor to never miss school," he added, noting that he would suggest his perfect-attendance goal for others only if they have the drive and the health needed. "But I don't know why I haven't gone crazy [from never missing a day] ... Not many people can just keep going and going."
When it comes time for college in the fall, Erik said he intends to go to class regularly, but is open to not having perfect attendance.
"I'm going to go to class, but if something comes up [he'll be OK with being absent]," he said.