DENVER, N.C. - Joshua Phillip Clay, 18 and graduating from East Lincoln High School this month, has never missed a day of school, which his mom remarked is impressive considering he was born 2 and a half months early as a 2 lb. and 13 oz. premature baby.
Clay’s mother, Belynda Clay, is a nurse and makes sure her son stays on top of his health so he won’t miss any school days. She said, “He would get sick during holidays. I’m a nurse, so I tend to be overprotective.” Clay also sticks to a gym routine to stay healthy and maintain his perfect attendance goal.
Clay has been in Tiger Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts since the first grade. He enjoys working in his dad’s workshop, which has inspired him to enter the workforce upon graduation. Belynda described her son and said, “He’s always wanted to work.”
East Lincoln High School Principal Mary Avery said: “Attendance in school and participation in class are integral parts of academic achievement and the teaching-learning process. The human brain is a pattern detector, and consistent daily attendance develops patterns of self-discipline and behavior which naturally lead to success in learning, promotion to the next grade, and the celebration of graduation.”
During his senior year of high school, the famous senior skip day came around. Clay did not want to participate for fear of losing his perfect record of attendance, and his friends were supportive of his goal. They came to school during the senior skip day to join Clay as he strived for his record. During his junior year, he worked with janitorial staff at East Lincoln High doing housekeeping work in the final days of the school year so he could be counted as present for those days.
Clay said: “It takes a lot of dedication and hard work. You’ve got to be motivated to do it. If they [students] have all that, they can do it. If you have motivation and dedication, you will thrive.”
--- Melissa Cordell is a graduate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. in Political Science and Women's & Gender Studies. Her primary interests are North Carolina politics, feminist readings of horror films, and spending time her with black cat Salem.
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