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'Very motivated' indeed

Published May 23, 2007


Todd Kaley has sensible reasons for never missing a day of school.

Not one "absent." In 13 years. He even skipped Senior Skip Day.

"I didn't want to worry about makeup work, " he said.

There's another reason. "Just getting up every day and seeing all of my friends ... It beats sitting at home doing nothing."

When Kaley, 18, graduated Monday from the Criminal Justice Academy at Pinellas Park High School, he ended a 13-year streak of perfect attendance.

From the first day of kindergarten at Northwest Elementary, through Tyrone Middle School and until now, Kaley said a little bit of luck and a lot of determination kept him out of bed and at a desk each day.

"I have a really strong immune system. I'm rarely ever sick, " he said.

Kaley says his mother, Teresa Williard, who raised two kids as a single parent, was his role model. "She's had a job ever since I can remember, " he said.

Williard said she tried to instill a strong work ethic in her children. "They knew it was important for Mommy to go to work even if Mommy didn't feel good, " she said.

Todd's older brother, Tyler, also had a nearly perfect attendance record, except for one week he missed in kindergarten. He had the chickenpox.

Kaley waits tables about 25 hours a week at the Green Iguana in St. Petersburg, and has held a part-time job since his sophomore year.

"He's just not one that sits around and watches TV all day, " Williard said. "He's a very motivated child."

Kaley said there have been temptations to blow off school, including increased peer pressure at the end of this year. "Can you just see me sitting there (in school) on Senior Skip Day?"

But he said he had come too far to give in at the last minute.

Will he be able to keep his streak at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, where he'll begin this fall? It'll be tough, he said, without Mom there to get him out of bed.

"Man, who knows?"

[Last modified May 23, 2007, 07:40:40]

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