PURCHASE LINE — For 13 years, Dalton Patterson didn’t miss a day of school.
Starting in kindergarten, all the way through his senior year at Purchase Line High School, the Cookport senior earned perfect attendance honors every year.
“I just went to school every day, never really thought about it. I just figured, you have to go to school,” Patterson said.
Patterson graduated Tuesday evening, and was honored Monday at a baccalaureate service.
“I think that’s pretty rare to have someone who hasn’t missed a day of school, kindergarten through 12th grade,” said Belinda Lamrie, a guidance counselor at the high school.
There’s some good luck involved. Lamrie remembered the flu outbreak earlier this year and said she didn’t know how he got through it without getting sick. Often juniors or seniors have college visits that force them to miss a day here or there.
“It’s unusual that’s there’s nothing that comes in the way (of perfect attendance),” she said.
But Lamrie said his attitude is what made the difference.
“I think it’s a positive attitude about school and coming to school,” she said.
“(That’s) 180 days over 13 years — 2,340 days straight — of not missing a day. That’s amazing to me.”
Patterson said that in the early years, it wasn’t much of an effort. All his friends were at school, so why wouldn’t he go?
Later, when he and his friends had driver’s licenses, the temptation to take a day off grew, but he resisted.
“I figured I already had nine or 10 years of perfect attendance in, so why throw it away now?” he said.
Only once that he recalls was his record threatened by illness. He was diagnosed with bronchitis on a Friday and was told he would have to let three days pass before going back.
The next Monday, the day he would have missed, was a snow day.
And he credits his mother, Tammy Patterson, with pushing him to keep up his attendance record.
“My mom had a lot to do with it, she pushed me to go, wanted me to be the best that I could (be). She helped me through a lot of it.”
He is also the son of Edward Patterson.
Now graduated, Patterson is going on to Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in Lancaster. But he offered encouragement to other students looking to achieve perfect attendance.
“I’m proud of it,” he said. “Just keep with it and don’t throw it all away for something dumb. ... It’s a big accomplishment; it makes you feel good about yourself.”
PHOTO: Dalton Patterson, a Purchase Line student with a perfect attendance record, accepted his diploma from Mary Ann Pittman, school board president, at Tuesday’s graduation ceremony. (MICHAEL WALKER/Gazette)