Way back in first grade, Lisa Cotton’s little eyes were fixated on a television program that showed a girl getting a perfect attendance award. Since then, she was “present” every school day. She graduated recently from Haynes Academy for Advanced Studies in Metairie, Louisiana, with a perfect attendance record.
No, she’s not a robot. "Honestly, it's a huge relief," Cotton told the New Orleans Times Picayune. "I don't have to wake up every day saying, 'Oh, my gosh, I have to go to school today!'"
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She overcame obstacles like hurricane evacuations, and even the ribbing of classmates who urged her to play hooky just once. "My friends all knew about it and were trying to talk me out of it around Senior Skip Day," the 18-year-old told the newspaper. "Some days it was hard because you want to go be with your friends."
Even illness couldn’t keep her away from class, her mother Debbie Cotton told the Times Picayune. "Lisa rarely complains about things like this, so she went to school with strep throat and scarlet fever and she didn't miss a beat," she said.
The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that students stay home at least the first 24 hours after contracting strep throat, which, like scarlet fever, is contagious. “Do not let your child return to daycare or school until he or she has taken the antibiotics for at least 24 hours,” the CDC website says of scarlet fever.
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Thankfully, Cotton’s classmates and school administrators understood her tenacity. "I knew I could always depend on her to be there for the team," Cotton's school softball coach Sam Gomez told the paper. "She's not very vocal or loud. Instead she leads by example, by being there for everyone."
Ironically, Cotton was AWOL from the plaque presentation at the Jefferson Parish School Board. You can excuse her absence: She went to visit her brother and his wife in California.