Perfect attendance

West County Senior Chayton Akers has not missed a single day of school. 

For the last 13 years, there have been about 2,260 days of school. This is equal to nearly 15,900 hours of attending classes. And for every one of these days, West County High School Senior Chayton Akers has been in class.

Records indicate Chayton has not missed a day of school in kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, or even high school.

He didn’t even miss a day of preschool.

He’s not even been late to class.

Akers has attended school on the days he was sick. This includes days when he didn’t feel like getting out of bed. Earlier this year he had the flu “really, really bad.” Luckily, school was cancelled on a Thursday and Friday due to bad weather, so he didn’t have to get out of bed and was still able to keep his perfect attendance. One morning his car didn’t start before school so he had to run to his mom’s work, get her car, and hurry back home to pick up his sister Hanna, all in about a 10-minute span.

There are also days when Akers ignores his alarm. “Suddenly I wake up and see the sun shining and then realize I have to get up and rush to get ready.”

Last week, Akers woke up and was very tired.

“I didn’t want to go at all,” he says, “and I told my sister I wasn’t going to school that day. She said, ‘Get up, you’re going.’ She made sure I understood it was not an option to miss school that day. She was definitely my motivation to go that day.”

Then there was senior skip day, which Akers chose not to participate in.

“I didn’t take it,” he said, “and they all asked if I was going to do it and I said, ‘Well, obviously I’m not going.’ And I didn’t.”

In second grade, Akers had poison ivy. “But I had to go to school because I wasn’t going to miss my CiCi’s Pizza trip.”

He loves all-you-can-eat food.

“So I put socks on my hands so I wouldn’t get anyone else sick. I got a lot of funny looks that day.”

But at the end of the school year, he enjoyed his perfect attendance trip to CiCi’s Pizza.

Akers remembers going on this trip every year during elementary school. “We got like $3 in quarters to play the arcade games and it was so much fun,” he said.

In fact, CiCi’s Pizza was a huge motivation for Akers to maintain his perfect attendance. When he got to fifth grade and realized that he was about halfway through his education, he was pleased that he had not missed one day of school. So he set a goal for himself as a fifth grader: he wanted to see how far he could go through school without missing a day.

“My parents have encouraged me a lot,” said Akers. “If it wasn’t for my mom and dad and even my sister, I wouldn’t have achieved this goal. They wake me up and encourage me to go even when I’m tired or not feeling well. I really couldn’t have done this without them.”

His mom Jessica says she’s very proud of her son. “He never gave up. When he went to have his braces put on, I told him he was going to have to come in the morning time and he said no, so we had to go on a Saturday.”

She says when her son was sick, he went to school anyway.

“I’ve never seen someone that wanted it so bad as he did," she said.

She recalls another time when his grandparents passed away. “We asked him if he wanted to miss school and he said, ‘No, that’s not what they wanted. They would want me to go.’”

She says they would be so proud of him today.

When others learn of Akers’ remarkable accomplishment of not missing a single day of school, they are in disbelief.

“They are in a lot of shock at first,” he said. “At first they don’t believe me until a parent or another person tells them it’s actually true.”

Teachers are also surprised.

When Akers told Barb Steel, one of his teachers at WCHS, he had not missed any days she was in disbelief.

“A lot of teachers can’t believe it because they don’t hear about this kind of thing often,” says Akers. He credits his teachers for pushing him through school.

“If the teaching staff all the way through school wasn’t so nice, I probably wouldn’t have pushed myself like I did,” he said. “If you have a goal, they’ll help you reach it. They’re incredible.”

Steel says Akers has thoroughly impressed her with his attendance.

“He is always at school, even when he doesn’t feel 100 percent. This is an excellent quality for students and for future employees,” she said. “His work is always finished and he never makes excuses but does the work necessary for class.”

Kristen Hart-Williams, Akers’ Algebra II and Geometry teacher, said she’s extremely proud of his accomplishment. “I believe it shows an extreme dedication to his education from both Chayton and his parents.”

She had Akers in class as a sophomore and junior.

“He was always present and ready to learn. I am sure he will carry that same dedication into his future workplace.”

Akers has participated in many extracurricular activities throughout his education, including Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Student Council, Future Business Leaders of America and Bible Dawgs. He volunteered at the recent Special Olympics event. He was paired up with another WCHS student, to which Akers says was a “once-in-a-lifetime experience. It was amazing to work with this student and to see all the other kids. We had a blast.”

He’s also been a member of Family, Career and Community Leaders of America since seventh grade. His advisor, Tiffany Miller-Bungenstock, says she will miss Akers’ smiling face, fun-loving attitude and commitment to FCCLA.

“He has been the first one on the roller coaster at Six Flags [on FCCLA trips] and the first one with his vest on to help pick up trash from our Adopt-a-Highway program.”

Akers has also participated in school athletics. He played golf during all four years of high school and basketball grades 7-12.

Chris LaBruyere, high school basketball coach, said Akers worked extremely hard to turn himself in a productive team member.

“Chayton had every opportunity to quit working hard because he was playing behind other point guards in the program, but his dedication to our program was amazing. I am extremely proud of his improvement as a player and especially as a young man.”

WC Athletic Director John Simily agrees and calls Akers’ accomplishment “absolutely incredible.”

Principal Kevin Coffman says Akers’ feat is impressive.

“I remember Chayton in middle school always with a smile. To say he made it over 2,000 consecutive days to school says a lot about him. He is extremely dedicated and loves school. It was a joy to have him in school.”

Superintendent Stacy Stevens believes in his 19 years with the district that only one other student has ever accomplished this task of not missing a single day of school.

“I am very proud of the commitment that Chayton has shown to wanting to be at school every day,” said Stevens. “I know in visiting with him he has had a number of times over the years in which he was dealing with either not feeling well or some other issue that would have made it easy for him to take a day off but he chose to come to school.”

He says this type of dedication will pay off for Akers as he goes on and eventually enters the workforce.

“On a personal note, it has been fun to watch to Chayton, along with the others in his class, grow into fine young adults,” Stevens said. “I predict good things for him in his future.”

As for his plans after graduation, Akers plans to attend Jefferson College to become an EMT and earn his paramedic license. He wants to later become a firefighter. He’s been a volunteer firefighter with the Leadwood Fire Protection District since he was 13.

And yes, Akers’ goal is to have perfect attendance during college.

He even wants to have perfect attendance during his career. There’s a pretty good chance he’ll achieve that goal, too. He’s had a job since he was 15. He’s never missed a day of work.

At this point in his life, Akers has never missed a day of school or work.

“If you ever need someone to help you with something or you need someone to come through, I could be that person because of my attendance record,” said Akers.

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