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5/18/2004

Every day is opportunity to learn

May 18, 2004 Tuesday


Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)

Brooke Niemeyer For the Deseret Morning News

With only a short time until the day I am handed my high school diploma, I can't deny that I'm ready to take the next step in my education. I look forward to all the changes that come with going to college -- like living in a dorm room and meeting new people.

However, there's one thing in college that I may do that will be a first for me. It isn't a typical "new experience" and I bet no one really thinks about it happening, since it is a common thing to do. I am going to miss my first day of school.

On the first day of kindergarten, most kids have tears rolling down their cheeks while they cling to their mothers' sides, not wanting to enter the unfamiliar classroom. On my first day of kindergarten at Oakwood Elementary, I hugged and kissed my mom goodbye and ran into the classroom. I was so excited to be there.

I am an only child, so I was eager to be around people my own age. But also, I couldn't wait to learn. This didn't hurt my mom's feelings at all. In fact, she was quite excited for me. She recalls that she could only smile about my enthusiasm.

I loved school so much. That's when it all began.

One of my best friends, Nicole Jonkman, says I'm the only person she knows with perfect attendance. In my 13 years of schooling, many of my peers (and adults, too) have asked me how I've managed to do it.

The way I see it, I don't know how students can not be at school every day. The teachers don't stop teaching just because a desk is empty. If you aren't in class, you miss out on an opportunity to learn something new.

Of course Nicole tells me all the time that it is easier to just stay home when you are sick. But being sick is a problem I haven't had much. The worst illness I've ever had was the chicken pox, and that happened when I was 2. I'm really lucky that I have such a good immune system. It seems like I don't ever catch any of the colds that are going around. (Knock on wood!) This doesn't mean that my allergies don't ever act up. But I've learned that I'll get feeling better much faster if I tell myself I'm not going to be sick and even force myself to be at school.

Being with my friends is the best medicine, and the only side effects are side-aches caused by excessive laughter. My friends are all amazing people who are really supportive of me.

Still, people have tried to get me to not go to class, especially this year since the senioritis disease is spreading like wildfire. I can't even count how many times people have asked me, "What is the point of having perfect attendance?" My answer is always the same, "After all this time, what's the point in me not graduating with 100 percent attendance?"

There are times when I know my friends would rather go somewhere during school hours besides school. (They are always reminding me that we are seniors, and we are not supposed to want to be in school.) But when we go somewhere for lunch and they don't want to go back to school, they have to bring me back, and at that point, they figure they may as well stay and go to class. So in a way, my goal has benefited others, although I don't know if they always see it that way.

The day I graduate will be the 2,340th day I've spent at school. I couldn't have done any of this without the love and support of my family, especially my grandparents -- Mormor and Morfar -- who got me to school every day and supported me throughout all of my education.

I've finally done it, and as I look back, I'm so glad that I can say that I was there every day.

Brooke Niemeyer is a senior at Cottonwood High School, headed for Westminster College in the fall. If you are going to be a junior in high school next year and would like to write for Pulse, please send an e-mail to pulse@desnews.com or write to Susan Whitney, c/o the Deseret Morning News.