WOODS CROSS – It’s not just teachers and administrators who believe that regular attendance at school is vital.
“It takes a process to learn something,” said one South Davis Junior High student. “Missing a part in the process could delay (learning).”
Besides, it’s illegal not to be in school, he added.
“There’s no way you can get the full experience if you’re not there,” said a student body officer from Woods Cross. “Attendance is very important.”
Students descended on McDonald’s in Woods Cross at 5:45 a.m. on Sept. 3 for a promotion jointly sponsored by McDonald’s and the Davis Education Foundation.
While McDonald’s was promoting the benefits of a healthy breakfast to start each day, the foundation linked that with the importance of coming to school each day ready to learn.
“We want students to wake up to success,” said Jodi Lunt, foundation director. “We want to heighten the awareness of how our young people need to get up and get to school and be prepared to be successful.”
Studies show that students who miss school during the first month of the year are more likely to be chronically absent for the rest of the year, she said.
This month is National Attendance Awareness month, and the district’s support of the promotion will continue throughout the year in a variety of campaigns, including coloring, video and marketing promotion contests.
As students become involved in developing art and videos, they become the spokespeople for the effort, said Pamela Park, assistant superintendent at Davis School District.
“The kids become role models,” she said. “They can pay it forward and tell their friends, ‘Hey, I missed you in school.’”
A focus on wellness is planned for November, according to Park, because good health contributes to regular attendance.
Students are considered chronically absent if they miss school 10 percent of the time.
According to information from the University of Utah, each year a student is chronically absent the chances that he or she will drop out double.
Academic performance in first grade is negatively impacted for students who miss a lot of kindergarten days, the university reported.
Attendance Counts, a national and state initiative to support school attendance, reports that the academic impact of missing school is the same even if the absence is excused.
Regular attendance “increases the chances to be successful and leads to graduation,” said John Haning, principal at Woods Cross High. “We don’t have a lot of (students with chronic absences), but we don’t want any.”
Many schools throughout the district are taking steps to increase enrollment, from calling homes to talking individually with students who are repeatedly absent.
“Kids cannot succeed unless they’re in school every day,” said Bryan Bowles, superintendent. “Kindergarten is one of the worst years. Parents think it’s OK to take kids out but they establish patterns that follow all the way through high school.”
Even Ronald McDonald was on board with the need for regular school attendance.
“You want to be there to learn everything you need to know to become successful citizens,” he said.