17-year-old Hawaii high school senior Ciara Cetraro is three weeks away from setting an insane record: she hasn't missed one day of school since kindergarten.
That's more than 2,000 days of school, uninterrupted by illness, vacation, "mental health days," trips to the mall for makeovers, watching Judge Joe Brown in your pajamas, or watching The Maury Show in your pajamas.
In a heart-wrenching exposé conducted by the West Hawaii Today newspaper, Cetraro discusses her addiction to perfect attendance, and how it developed, from an innocuous seedling phase, into a to life-choking invasive weed.
Beginning in elementary school, an army of enablers presented her with yearly, even quarterly (seriously?), awards for perfect attendance. Cetraro was reportedly allowed to run through sprinklers, be first in line for lunch or dismissal, act as the teacher's assistant, and eat water ice, as long as she kept that sweet, sweet attendance record nice and clean, baby girl, nice and clean.
That's when, according to the paper, "not missing class and making every day count shifted from a goal to a habit."
Cetraro started off with more casual displays of perfect attendance. She would show up for every recess, every lunch, every free period. By high school, she was hooked, showing up for classes that begged not to be attended, like Pre-Calc and AP Latin: Vergil.
In the most distressing moment of the West Hawaii Today piece, Cetraro accepts full responsibility for her actions, but confesses she sees no way out of her self-inflicted spiral of perfect attendance.
"It's always been a personal choice and a hard habit to break."
And then she starts talkin' that sweet junkie jive:
"I've always been afraid of possibly missing something. I just wanted to try my best, learn as much as I can and continually improve myself. By not missing a single day of school, I get the opportunity to build on and broaden my knowledge."
Most unnerving is that Cetraro was able to indulge in her thirteen year bender of perfect attendance while living in Hawaii, a tropical paradise with plenty of resources that could tempt students to skip school, if only they were made aware of them.
In fact, according to the state's Board of Education Vice Chairman Brian DeLima, chronic absenteeism is "an epidemic" in Hawaii.
Brave teachers who attempted to sneak in an absence for Cetraro through the back door, via the accumulation of "tardies," found themselves subjected to the full brunt of a unhinged addict's rage:
Sometimes Cetraro had to stand firm and ask teachers to correct roll calls that mistakenly indicated she was tardy because tardiness could eventually add up to an absence.
Sometimes kids just slip through the cracks of slipping through the cracks.
Cetraro, who, in addition to being class valedictorian, is also president and treasurer of Konawaena High School's chapter of the National Honor Society, captain of the Konawaena Wildcat cheerleading squad, senior class vice president and Go Green Environmental Club vice president, acknowledges she's playing with fire by continuing her brazen perfect attendance habit:
"…I'm lucky that I've never got deathly ill or injured…"
but shows no intention of cutting back before college (she plans to study engineering and art history at either the University of Hawaii or Arizona State), at which point she will promptly cease going to any class that begins before 11 a.m. entirely.
Oh, and her older brother, Nicolas, graduated from high school last year with the same record and was also a class valedictorian.
So actually Ciara Cetraro is just a copycat.