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.
Herrings grandfather was supportive of the teens 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 grandfathers death on a Tuesday. The next day, he was sitting in class.
Support has come from outside Herrings 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 dont get sick. I get up in the morning, and I dont complain about it.
For 10 days leading up to the end of the school year, members of the schools 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.
Herrings 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 didnt 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 hadnt 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 Keenens 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 wasnt 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.