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Jeromy? Here! Never missed a day

Jeromy Harding, 10, had perfect attendance for six years at Northwest Elementary School.

By KENT FISCHER

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 26, 2001


HUDSON -- T-shirts and trophies put Jeromy Harding on a road toward perfection.

As a kindergartener five years ago, Jeromy was one of several students at Northwest Elementary School with perfect attendance. As a reward the students all got T-shirts and an assembly in their honor. One lucky kid won a big shiny trophy.

"I got (perfect attendance) once and I won a bunch of stuff," said Jeromy, "so I decided that I would just keep on doing it."

And doing it, and doing it, and doing it.

Jeromy, 10, finished up his six years at Northwest Elementary School on Friday without ever missing a day. That's 1,080 consecutive school days without an absence or a tardy.

"I had so many years behind me that I just didn't want to blow it," Jeromy said.

Jeromy's mom, Lori, said it wasn't easy keeping the streak alive. Jeromy made more than a few trips to school despite coughs and fevers. Several years ago Jeromy's family even rescheduled a Christmas trip to a time-share condo in Key West to avoid pulling him out of school.

"It was really important for Jeromy to keep up that perfect attendance," Lori Harding said. "We haven't been able to get back (to the time-share) since."

Jeromy said most of his friends can't believe that he has never missed a day of school in his life. And his teachers sometimes encourage him to stay home when he's sick. But Jeromy liked getting those T-shirts and trophies at the end of the year, so he kept plugging along.

"Last year I got really sick and my dad didn't think I'd make it," he said. "I told him I would try really hard. You have to work for it."

Principal Rene Sedlack said she's never had a student who came to school every single day every single year.

"Every year he comes up to get his (perfect attendance) T-shirt," Sedlack said. "I always ask him: "How many of these do you have?' "

Jeromy's little brother Justin, by the way, has had perfect attendance two out of the three years he has been at Northwest.

He would have been three-for-three but Justin, 8, had to have his tonsils out last year.

Next year Jeromy will move on to Hudson Middle School. At first he said he didn't think he would try to keep the streak alive once he left Northwest.

Now, though, he says he might.

"I'm going to try and go right through school," he said.

- Kent Fischer covers education in Pasco County. He can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6241 or (800) 333-7505, ext. 6241.

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