COVINGTON -- Eastside High School graduate Chris Elliott is looking forward to attending college in the fall -- not only because he is attending Georgia Southern University with several of his friends and gets a little more freedom. He's also glad he is not under pressure to attend class every day.
For the past 12 years, Elliott hasn't missed a day of school -- he went to school every day when he was sick, every Monday after a long weekend and even on Senior Skip Day this year.
"The weeks off during the school year help, and I would schedule any surgeries or appointments over the summer," said Elliott, 18, son of John and Mary Elliott of Mansfield. "I'm healthy, and I don't get sick as often as some other people."
Kindergarten was another story, though. Elliott said he would have 13 years perfect attendance if it weren't for missing one half-day in kindergarten at Mansfield Elementary School.
"I went to school for half the day, but then I got sick and my grandfather came to pick me up," he said. "I still remember that day."
After that, though, he was determined to stay in school every day.
"I thought that I should go ahead and see how far I could take this, so I did it in middle school and it kept going," he said. "It wasn't really that hard."
Until one day in sixth grade when he was at Indian Creek Middle School.
"I must have had a fever," Elliott said. "And I did not want to go to school, but my dad said, 'Chris, you're going to school.' I still went, but it almost ended that day."
But after that, he kept going to school every day of classes.
"My mom's fine home cooking kept me healthy," Elliott said, adding that he enjoyed chicken and other meats and snacking on fruits like apples. "It's been fun, and I do things like any other kid does."
While in high school, he was involved in marching band, tennis, Beta Club, Key Club and the Junior Classic League Latin Club.
Although he doesn't have any regrets about not skipping class, he had a hard time when he had to miss a class due to a field trip or other school activity.
"I'm used to hearing what my teachers are saying, not relying on someone else," he said. "It was a little hard the next day because I wasn't used to missing (class)."
His friends also would encourage him to keep going, when he was thinking about missing a class because he was a little sick, tired or wanted to join his other classmates.
"They were amazed," he said.
He will attend Georgia Southern University in the fall to study engineering, but he doesn't think he will try to keep up his perfect attendance.
"I think I'm going to miss the first day of class, just so I can end it right there," Elliott said. "Some days, it feels like a burden, and some days I'm very happy about it."
Elliott was honored for his perfect attendance at Eastside's graduation ceremony. This week, he also is set to receive a $1,000 scholarship from local businesses in Covington through the Georgia Department of Labor.