GILLETTE — On May 12, the senior classrooms in Wright Junior-Senior High School looked a little empty.
In a tradition now known as senior skip day throughout the country, some of the class took advantage of the upcoming end of the school year and decided to exercise their freedom: they skipped school.
But Louis Navarro skipped the skip day.
Nothing could stop him from gaining perfect attendance from the moment he transferred to Wright in third grade. Since that moment 10 years ago, Navarro hasn’t missed a single day of school.
His friends gave him a pretty hard time about his choice to abstain from the recognized skip day, but he held strong.
“I’m fully committed,” he said.
And now that the school year is completely over, he has officially reached the milestone.
To some, the very idea of perfectly attending school for one year seems unfathomable. No sick days? No excused personal spa day? No dentist appointments?
For Navarro, those pose no problems.
He shakes any admiration off with a little shrug of his shoulders.
“Honestly, I just do a bunch of stuff and go to school every day,” he said.
Navarro’s not the only one in his family who has earned perfect attendance.
His two sisters, Carla and Carolina, have flirted with perfection on and off throughout the years.
As a seventh grader this year, Carolina attained perfect attendance and Carla missed one day of her sophomore year because she was sick as a dog, as they say.
“She missed one day because she was deathly ill,” said Jenni Rasmussen, one of Wright’s front office staff. “We had to force her to stay home because she still wanted to come in.”
Louis and his mother Jessica both agreed that sibling competition isn’t part of what pushes the three to put in the work every day.
“They’re competitive in other things,” Jessica said, “but not this.”
She said that it seems to be something the three “just do.” They wake up every morning, get ready and enter the school’s doors before 8 a.m. without, it seems, too much pushback.
“We really don’t have anything forcing us to do it,” Louis said, prefacing the fact that their mother isn’t what makes them continue their perfect tradition. It’s self-motivated.
As their mother, Jessica sees all of her children develop a sense of responsibility and a true building of character as they go through the motions of perfection every school day. It’s not something that’s always fun, she said but that doesn’t mean a person shouldn’t do it.
Talking to Louis, a person may think that attending every class over the last 10 years isn’t terribly difficult. The senior makes it sound like everyone could do it.
“I just don’t even think about it,” he said.
But others notice and respect the time and effort he’s put into the school and himself.
“He’s getting up and doing this every day,” said Lonnie Robertson, principal of Wright Junior-Senior High. “The last couple years he’ll come in and his hair may be standing up, but he’s here.”
Robertson said that Louis epitomizes what it means to be a great student. Ultimately, he makes the choice every day to do what most others wouldn’t.
“I think it’s sacrificing and making some choices and other arrangements,” Robertson said. “Even as adults we make the choice. Do we really need to take a day off or is it just convenience?”
In the last few weeks, Louis made a clear choice to miss out on a couple of days his friends had off. On top of the time he skipped senior skip day, he also came to the last official day of his high school career.
On Wednesday, many seniors who completed everything they needed for graduation were able to be checked out by their parents — but Navarro was there, even though he’d completed everything he needed to do.
“I was not surprised at all,” Rasmussen said.
But she and the others at the front desk are surprised when they see an absent mark by any of the Navarros’ names.
Normally the absent mark is a false alarm, since she tends to find them in another classroom at the school.
“When they’re not here, it’s like, where are they?” She laughed.
In order to be perfect, Louis also gave up free days that would not have counted against him. The Campbell County School District grants students up to 10 excused absences per semester. If there are outstanding circumstances, it also works with the students.
With some quick math, that means that in theory, throughout only his high school career, Louis could have taken up to 80 excused days off, nearly three months.
And he’s perfectly attended school for far more years than that.
But taking time off is not what he’s about.
Louis said he likes to be on top of his schoolwork and noted that since he never misses a day, that normally isn’t a problem. As far as whether it’s attainable for others or if others should try to complete what he’s accomplished, Louis simply said it’s up to them.
“I feel like you should do what you want,” he said. “If you want it, go for it. But you’ll have to persevere every single day.”