Published Online: June 4, 1997

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Every day, every year

With only one day standing between their daughter Brandy and a perfect school attendance record over 14 years, Debbie and Jim Nowlin of Bremen, Ohio, didn't want anything to blow it.

So they provided Ms. Nowlin with a limousine and police escort last month to take her to Fairfield Union High School in Lancaster, about 10 miles from their home. Upon her arrival, she received a police escort into the building.

"We thought it was something great," Brandy's mother said of her daughter's accomplishment. "If you think about it, it's three-fourths of her life."

Ms. Nowlin did not miss a single day from kindergarten through high school, including the entire year that she spent repeating 3rd grade.

She didn't start her school career trying to have perfect attendance. But by the 4th grade, she decided it was a goal that she could achieve.

Events were scheduled around class time so she wouldn't miss school, including the funeral for a grandfather who died when she was in 7th grade and some minor surgery during her freshman year of high school. Somehow, Ms. Nowlin was able to dodge the childhood diseases that would have brought an end to her goal.

"It wasn't easy," Debbie Nowlin said. "But it was nothing she was ever pushed into."

Ms. Nowlin's biggest test of willpower came May 9, her high school's Senior Skip Day.

"I was the only one there," the girl told the The Columbus Dispatch. "Everyone else was gone. But I figured I've done this for 14 years, so what was one day?"

But Ms. Nowlin, who graduated May 25, will not miss out on the school senior trip. She vowed to join her fellow classmates on their trek to Myrtle Beach, S.C.

For Josh and Jesse Leyva, high school attendance was a case of like father, like son.

Josh Leyva, a graduate of Central High School in San Angelo, Texas, managed to finish school last month with 13 years of perfect attendance--a feat his father accomplished in 1970.

He never planned to match his dad's record--it just happened that way, said the younger Mr. Leyva.

"It was a sacrifice," said his mother, Ilda Leyva. "We didn't know if he was going to make it or not."

"I got kind of tired," the graduate told the San Angelo Standard-Times, "but I was so close to the end, I decided to go for it."

--ADRIENNE D. COLES

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