There were some days, particularly in middle school, when Carlyle Clark begged to stay home.
Maybe she was a bit headachy, or maybe things just weren’t going so well in her middle-school world. But her parents weren’t having any of it and hustled her off to class every day.
Not that there were too many such days. Clark was — and is — a healthy girl and an overachiever in a family of overachievers.
She is 18 now, a senior at Paul G. Blazer High, and in another 16 school days she fully expects to graduate with perfect attendance.
That’s perfect attendance since the day she first stepped into kindergarten at Hager Elementary with her pink backpack slung over her shoulders. Clark is only the third Blazer student in recent memory to make it through 13 years of school without missing a day.
The others were Julia Heaberlin, class of 2012, and Phillip Eskew, class of 2002, according to her grandmother, Patsy Lindsey.
Lindsey knows what she is talking about — she is the director of pupil personnel for the Ashland district and a big part of her job is tracking attendance.
Clark also is unique this year among northeast Kentucky high schools, where no other senior is graduating with perfect attendance, Lindsey said.
A combination of good health and family determination accounts for her early years of perfect attendance; among other things her parents rescheduled vacations to avoid conflicts.
By the time she was in high school, Clark got caught up in the race. “That’s when I realized that it was a big deal. Now I couldn’t imagine missing a day,” she said.
She also is far beyond the time when aches and pains could keep her home; she and her mother, Stephanie Gilmore, freely assert there have been days when a couple of ibuprofen tablets made the difference.
There is some lasting value in having aced the attendance race, Clark believes: she hopes it will attest to her sense of responsibility and reliability and plans to mention it on applications and resumes.
Her mother credits her parents, Lindsey and district Superintendent Steve Gilmore, with helping Clark keep on track and recalls Lindsey checking in from time to time to make sure the girl would be in school.
Persistence seems to run in the family. Clark has two younger sisters who also have never missed a day of school.
Clark’s parents and grandparents were on hand Tuesday when the Ashland Optimist Club presented her with an award recognizing her accomplishment. Gattiland of Ashland purchased the plaque and also gave Clark a $100 gift certificate.
MIKE JAMES can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2652.