APEX — Students from all over Wake County have been approaching Keenen Herring, and they all want to know the same thing: How did he manage to never miss a day of school in 13 years?
Herring, 18, will graduate from Middle Creek High School on Tuesday with a perfect-attendance record that dates back to kindergarten.
Getting to class every day was a challenge at times. The Willow Spring teen was injured in a car wreck his sophomore year, and his grandfather died of congestive heart failure in October.
Herring’s grandfather was supportive of the teen’s perfect-attendance goal.
“He would always ask, ‘How is school?’ and ‘Have you missed a day, Buddy Ro?’ ”Herring recalled. “I just looked back and thought about if he was strong through that time, I figured I could make it through that and go to school.”
Herring learned of his grandfather’s death on a Tuesday. The next day, he was sitting in class.
Support has come from outside Herring’s family as well. His attempt at a perfect-attendance record spread through social media.
Herring played baseball at Middle Creek, and students from other schools would ask him about it during games.
He would tell them, “I don’t get sick. I get up in the morning, and I don’t complain about it.”
For 10 days leading up to the end of the school year, members of the school’s National Honor Society gave Herring a button with a number on it to mark the countdown.
Even when “senioritis” kicked in this year, Herring fought the temptation to skip school.
“If I miss days, then I will miss lessons and have to do the makeup work,” he said.
Herring’s mother, Kamona Herring, first made it a priority for her son to be in school every day.
Kamona Herring said she missed school as a child when her parents moved into a new house. She missed out on a lesson on Roman numerals, and she never learned them when she got to her new school.
“I knew I didn’t want him to miss learning anything,” she said.
If Keenen Herring needed to see a doctor, his mother would schedule the appointments for after school or during a lunch break.
By the time he got to middle school and still hadn’t missed a day, Kamona Herring thought her son might have a shot at perfect attendance.
During his sophomore year, the quest for a perfect record became a personal mission for Keenen Herring.
That year, in December 2011, a driver ran into the car driven by Keenen’s father, Cedric Herring. Keenen, who was in the passenger seat, suffered a leg contusion, while his father had a concussion.
Keenen Herring left the hospital at about midnight after the accident, but he went to school the next day.
“I thought if I wasn’t seriously injured that I should go to school,” he said.
In a couple of months, Keenen Herring is heading to Pitt Community College, where he plans to play baseball.
Time will tell if he never misses an early-morning class.