Eastlake High School senior George I. Maldonado and Montwood High School senior Leslie Calderwood wake up eager to go to school every morning and have never missed a single day.
The seniors have had a perfect attendance record their entire educational career from kindergarten to 12th grade. A perfect attendance record means they have attended 179 instructional days each year for 12 years, which is equivalent to 2,148 days in school.
“We are extremely proud of these remarkable students,” said Superintendent José Espinoza. “Attendance is a crucial component when it comes to student success. We are confident that their commitment to education will take them far after graduation and that they will excel in college, careers, and life.”
Both Maldonado and Calderwood said their inspiration to graduate with perfect attendance started at the elementary level when they were recognized with trophies and incentives in front of their peers.
“Going to school is easy,” Calderwood said. “I want to be a role model for other students. If you miss one day of school, you fall behind, so there really is no point in missing.”
Maldonado agreed. “Being at school every day came natural for me,” he said.
Both students credited their parents in their achievement because they ensured that all appointments were made over the weekend or after school.
“I am incredibly proud of Leslie’s work ethic and drive,” said her father, Scott Calderwood. “She has always made school a priority, even when she was feeling ill she wanted to go to school.”
In Maldonado’s case, having zero absences is a family tradition. His mother, Claudia Maldonado, also held a perfect attendance record when she was in school.
She said despite illness or the death of a family member, her son was always determined to go to school.
“George is destined for great things,” Claudia Maldonado said. “He was recognized as an Eagle Scout in February, which is the highest rank in Boy Scouts of America. I am proud of him for many reasons, perfect attendance is just one of them.”
The principals at Eastlake and Montwood shared the parents’ excitement. They described the seniors as exceptional students who serve as role models for others at their school. They also are proud to provide students a safe and supportive learning environment that keeps them motivated to attend school daily.
“’Leslie is a true role model for the rest of our students,” said Rosemary Menchaca, Montwood High School principal. “She embodies what we want from every student at Montwood. She is committed and makes the most of everything. I am happy she enjoys the school environment here at Montwood, which keeps her coming back every single day.”
Gilbert Martinez, principal at Eastlake, said Maldonado has outstanding grades, is a top-notch student, and is involved in activities at school.
“George has done a lot more than come to school every day,” Martinez said. “He participates in extracurricular activities (football) so he is here before school, afterschool and even on the weekends.”
During football season, Maldonado spent an average of ten to 12 hours at school on a regular day and 15 hours on a game night.
“George has great qualities,” said his football coach Jimmy Calderon. “His high level of commitment reflects in his performance inside and outside of school.”
Calderwood also is involved at Montwood. She is an officer for the National Technical Honor Society (NTHS), which requires her to attend meetings prior to the start of the school day. She also organizes community service opportunities for her group on a monthly basis. The projects usually run up to three hours and are on weekends, up to three times every month.
Calderwood and Maldonado agreed that being present at school daily is a good habit that will benefit them in life. After graduation, Maldonado plans to enlist in the U.S. Marines to serve and protect his country. Calderwood will pursue a post-secondary education and earn a degree in business administration.
“A perfect attendance record now, means good job opportunities later,” said Carmen Crosse, assistant superintendent of secondary education. “High attendance is something an employer looks for. We are happy that these students ‘Make it Count’ and have attended school every day.”
Team SISD’s “Make it Count” attendance campaign encourages students and teachers to attend school every day in order to maximize teaching and learning time.