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Two Cooper Students Graduate Without Ever Missing a Day of School

Two students from Cooper High School graduate this year with perfect attendance, not just through four years of high school but through their entire academic careers.

Dylan Clifton, who is just a week away from his 18th birthday, is a self-proclaimed creature of habit and has liked schedules as far back as he can remember.

"I like routine," he said. "If you keep a schedule, it makes things easier."

Dylan remembers being scared on his first day of Kindergarten, but not overwhelmingly so.

"I remember meeting Tyler, my best friend, and then I had someone I wanted to go to school to see,"  he remembered. "Ty has been my friend all through my school career.  It really makes a difference."

Dylan went through elementary school at Burlington Elementary, then moved on to middle school at Camp Ernst. Ninth grade saw him working on school work at Cooper and forming ideas of what kind of work he would like to pursue in college. 

He made straight A's in all classes, and gravitated to math and STEM classes.

"As a kid, I used to take things apart to see how they work," he said. "I really like to see how the science is applied in real life, so AP Physics in my sophomore year set me on the right path."

As a result, and as no surprise, Dylan wants to be a mechanical engineer, and has received the Provost Scholarship from the University of Kentucky to pursue that.

"I recently found out that I will be in the dorm that is strictly for engineering students," Dylan said.  

He had an intern program set up for this summer, but that program is still uncertain. Dylan thought maybe he could get a part-time job at Amazon. In his spare time, he likes Frisbee golf, and regular golf, and he loves animals, especially his two cats.

Dylan thinks his perfect attendance could benefit him with his work, now and in the future.  His older sister had perfect attendance until her senior year, when she had one tardy, but she is proud of him for his perfect attendance as are their parents, Shannon and Derrick.

"It is a worthwhile goal to have, and it is one of those big accomplishments that I am proud of," he said.  "It keeps you honest with school work, and you get to see your friends everyday."

One of the people in Dylan's circle of close friends is Nina Heister. She has perfect attendance for twelve years, from the first grade through 12th grade, starting at Stephens Elementary, then Longbranch, on to Camp Ernst, and then Cooper.

Nina started noticing she hadn't missed any days at the end of the third grade, but she says it was momentary.

"Third-grade Nina didn't have any thoughts of a perfect attendance continuing through high school, I'm sure," Nina said with a laugh. "I think as each year went on without any absences, my brain was keeping track, particularly after seventh grade, I knew I would probably try and make it all the way through with perfect attendance."

Nina also likes schedules and adheres to routines. She said in middle school and high school the class schedules were increasingly stressful, and being in class every day helped to ease the stress. She noted that it becomes more and more difficult to make up work as the grade levels go higher. 

Nina has her sights set on being a biomedical engineer, and will be attending the J.B. Speed School at the University of Louisville which has a four-year, year-round program.

"I think it was after I went to the Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama, in the seventh grade that I realized what a biomedical engineer actually does," Nina remembered. "After that I knew that career was for me. Then I did a shadow course with St. Elizabeth where I saw prosthetics and pacemakers and came across a DaVinci robot. That's what I am hoping for, to work with the DaVinci robots."

Nina is also proud of her achievement of perfect attendance. 

She believes it will definitely help in her scholastic career and her work career because it shows consistency and accountability, and a good sense of self motivation, which is needed in college as well as work.

Nina had a job lined up for the summer as a lifeguard for the YMCA,  but when that didn't look like it would pan out due to the pandemic, she signed on as a teacher at the Mathnasium. 

She likes to cook, to play tennis and golf, and plays violin occasionally.

"I think this is a good achievement," Nina said. "I am happy about my college plans and my decision of a career, and I think everything works together to help me to be successful in the future."

Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor