Two students who will graduate this week have never missed a day of school.
Since their first day of kindergarten, Dilkaran Brar and and Victoria Coles have reported diligently to school every single day through their senior years of high school.
Perhaps they have stronger immune systems than most students, which they both attribute to their active lifestyles, but they also have a drive and ambition that gets them to class even when they’re not feeling 100 percent.
Dilkaran Brar, Clovis East High School
Brar, 17, started his journey to perfect attendance at Freedom Elementary School. His parents instilled in him at a very young age that education is a privilege.
“They came from India, so they didn’t really get the chance that I’m getting, the opportunities that I’m getting,” Brar said of his parents. “So I’ve always looked at it that education is a privilege and not something I can take for granted. My mom always said if you can go to school, take it one day at a time and just push yourself.”
When he finished eighth grade at Reyburn Intermediate School, Brar got an award for having perfect attendance since kindergarten.
“I thought, ‘Why not do it for four more years?’ ” he said.
So he made it a point to attend every class period at Clovis East High School. He was tardy — just once.
“It was early this year when there was traffic,” he said.
When his friend passed away on Dec. 5, 2014, Brar was ready to miss a day of school for the funeral. But it turned out that he didn’t have to. The family was able to move the funeral to a day and time that wouldn’t interfere with school.
Illness never threatened his attendance streak.
“I get sick, but my mom does a good job of taking care of me,” he said. “We have a cabinet full of medicine.”
His siblings — Brar has an older sister who attends UC Santa Cruz, a younger sister who will be a senior next year and a brother who is a freshman — get sick more often than he does, he said.
“They don’t (have perfect attendance),” he said.
But his parents do.
“They don’t miss work,” Brar said of his father, a business owner, and his mother, a postal worker. “My mom has a lot of vacation days left over.”
Brar runs cross country and the one-mile and 2-mile events in track and also played basketball.
“I did karate when I was younger,” Brar said. “I was sick once and we had a tournament and they said, ‘We need you, just come out.’ And I pushed through it that day and that was probably the toughest day. Ever since then, coming to school sick seems easy.”
Brar will graduate Thursday, June 2, with a 4.0 GPA. He plans to attend Fresno City College in the fall, where he will study biology.
Victoria Coles, Clovis High School
Coles, known around school as “Tori,” set a goal early on to obtain perfect attendance.
She was a third-grader at Redbank Elementary when she realized she hadn’t yet missed a day of school. She felt like she should keep it up through sixth grade.
“Then I said I might as well keep going and get through eighth grade,” she said. “When I made it through eighth I said I might as well keep going through senior year.”
Her strong immune system is aided by “vitamins and orange juice,” Coles, 17, said, adding she’s just too busy to be sick.
“I feel like I’ve been sick before, but I haven’t been so sick where I felt like I couldn’t go to school, so I’m very fortunate for that. Even if I was a little sick I would still come to school because I set a goal and I might as well keep going.”
“If I get sick, I don’t like to think about it,” she said. “I just say ‘I’m not even sick; I’m totally fine.’”
She never missed class at Clark Intermediate, nor Clovis High, where she played on the varsity soccer team as a forward and was captain of the varsity pep team.
“That’s the only time I’ve missed, when I had to leave early for a soccer game,” she said, “but I was excused for that.”
Coles has been on the leadership team at Clovis High for three years, was vice president of her class in her freshman and sophomore years and was the ASB spirit commissioner her junior and senior years.
“I’ve had the opportunity to get plugged in a lot and really make a difference in our school,” she said.
Clovis High deputy principal Stephanie Hanks said in her administrative career she’s only seen one other student achieve perfect attendance K-12.
“The volumes are said about her for her willingness to push herself even when she isn’t necessarily feeling 100 percent,” she said. “She still made an effort to be at school on a daily basis and always makes her appointments for after school, which is tough to do.”
Coles remembered on particular ailment that made it tough to wait until after school to see a doctor.
Although she had her wisdom teeth removed during spring break in her junior year, she forced herself to go to school even with a post-surgery infection.
“That was extremely hard,” she said. “But I still came to school and that was the worst feeling ever because my mouth was completely swollen shut.”
Coles sees her perfect attendance record not just as a piece of paper she’ll receive at graduation.
“It’s a really good resume starter,” she explained. “People see that I’m completely committed and I’ll always be at everything. I’ve been able to learn so much. I’ve been at every lesson. People will come to me and say, ‘Hey, what did we miss? Can you help me with this?’ And I’m able to help them. So I think it helps other people as much as it helps myself.”
Coles will graduate Wednesday, June 1 with a 3.9 GPA. She will play soccer for Fresno City College, where she will study education with an emphasis in natural science.
Of course, she will try to maintain perfect attendance through her college career.
She hopes to become a teacher like her parents. Her father is a kinesiology professor at Fresno State and her mother teaches sixth grade at Holland Elementary in Fresno.
Coles said her parents influenced her to get to school on time every day.
“They know the importance of being at school and getting all that you can out of it,” she said. “They’ve been encouraging me to continue and meet my goal.”