AP NEWS

Woodlands High School student graduates with perfect attendance

May 23, 2019

Nidhi Damu, a graduating senior at The Woodlands High School, climbed aboard a school bus every day class was in session for the past 13 years. Quite literally every day — her attendance record is perfect for her entire school career.

Damu attended Buckalew Elementary School and Mitchell Intermediate School before entering high school. Although she didn’t initially set out to keep up a perfect attendance streak, she spoke with The Villager about what it took to make it happen.

QUESTION: Tell us a little bit about you and your family?

DAMU: My parents first moved here in 2000, from South Africa, to Colorado Springs, Colorado. My dad had cousins who lived there, and I was born in Colorado. Then, they moved down to The Woodlands around 2004 to be closer to my dad’s siblings. We lived in the neighborhood across from both of my aunts, so I see them pretty often.

QUESTION: You haven’t missed one day of school from kindergarten to 12th grade. How did that happen?

DAMU: From kindergarten to sixth grade, I didn’t really notice that I hadn’t missed a day of school until the awards ceremony in sixth grade — they called me up and gave me $50 and I thought it was pretty cool. Then, I haven’t had anything to miss school for since then. I didn’t decide intentionally to keep going, because if I would have been sick enough I wouldn’t have forced myself to go to school, but I never had a fever or anything.

QUESTION: So you never got sick enough to miss school?

DAMU: No. I’d just have a common cold, but it wasn’t that bad.

QUESTION: What about any close calls, such as family emergencies or vacations?

DAMU: We haven’t really had any family emergencies that I had to miss school for, but for vacations usually my family would take me out of school right before the end of the day and we’d leave then. In seventh grade, we went to Disney and I left around third period. For most vacations, my family just pulled me out of school after I was there for most of the day.

QUESTION: Did it take dedication for you to have a perfect attendance record?

DAMU: Yes, because there were some days where I didn’t want to go to school. But, I decided that I’d rather go to school than make up the work that I missed.

QUESTION: What do people say when they find out you’ve been able to do this?

DAMU: They’re surprised about my immune system. They ask how I haven’t gotten sick.

QUESTION: So what’s the key?

DAMU: My mom makes a breakfast drink every morning. It’s kind of a booster: a vegetable smoothie with broccoli, carrots, beetroot, ginger and orange juice. Orange juice is great for keeping you healthy.

QUESTION: How does it feel to have these 13 years of school culminate in your graduation?

DAMU: I’m excited and relieved for next year, when I’ll be independent. It feels like something new, because I’ve been in the same routine for so long. With college, I’m excited to change in up a little bit. I’ll start my first semester at the University of Texas at Austin in August, and I think I’ll be majoring in aerospace engineering.

QUESTION: Will you try to continue your perfect attendance for your college career?

DAMU: I’ll see. If I need to take a day off, I will. It’s a lot more relaxed in college, so if I have to come home or something I’d be willing to skip school. But, I’m not going to force myself to go through all four years with perfect attendance.

QUESTION: Were you recognized in any way by your school for this achievement?

DAMU: At our awards night, I got a plaque for my 13 years of perfect attendance. I got a little bit of stage fright for being in front of so many people and being solely recognized, but it was exciting. I’m the only one at The Woodlands High School to do this this year.

jane.stueckemann@chron.com

All contents © copyright 2019 The Associated Press.All rights reserved.