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Voter's Guide



Every single day: For 13 years, from kindergarten through graduation, Northridge High student had perfect attendance

Nothing about Mackenzie Jarrett's morning ritual is particularly glamorous. She brushes her teeth with an electric toothbrush in a polka-dot-painted bathroom, puts in her contacts and fixes her long, curly hair. By 7:41 a.m., she pulls out of the gravel driveway in a green Chevrolet to head to Northridge High School. What's impressive is the 18-year-old has done this so many times in a row.

Posted on June 9, 2008 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on June 9, 2008 at 2:08 p.m.

MIDDLEBURY -- Nothing about Mackenzie Jarrett's morning ritual is particularly glamorous.

She brushes her teeth with an electric toothbrush in a polka-dot-painted bathroom, puts in her contacts and fixes her long, curly hair.

By 7:41 a.m., she pulls out of the gravel driveway in a green Chevrolet to head to Northridge High School.

What's impressive is the 18-year-old has done this so many times in a row. She's never missed a full day of school since kindergarten.

It's not an unprovable claim, either. Northridge assistant principal Phil Eddy pulled out Mackenzie's file earlier this year to double-check.

"I went back and, certainly enough, she's been there every single day since kindergarten. That's something," said Eddy, who oversees attendance. "People I've talked to, they've never heard of something like this."

Mackenzie remembers the close calls that almost ruined her flawless attendance record.

There was that one time -- a few years ago in middle school -- when she got the stomach flu.

"She was very fortunate," said her mother, Michelle Jarrett. "She was never really a sick kid at all."

When her great-grandmother died a few years ago, Mackenzie decided to go back to school after the funeral.

"She knew her great-grandparents wouldn't want her to mess (her perfect attendance) up," Michelle said.

Even during Senior Skip Day, when classes were sparse, she still went.

Mackenzie's fascination with attendance started when she saw another student on the news for never missing school.

"I was like, 'Mom, I want to do that,'" said Mackenzie, who describes herself as strong-willed.

"And every year, it seems like, Wow! We've got another," Michelle said. "Before we knew it, here we are in her 13th year."

"It's kind of a life goal too. Thirteen years -- I'm 18," Mackenzie adds. "That's almost more than my life."

Eddy said her perfect attendance shows Mackenzie values education.

"I also think it says a lot about her parents and her family," he said.

Each morning, Mackenzie's mother wakes her up.

"Wakey wakey, eggs 'n bakey," Michelle will say in a sing-songy voice to get her out of bed.

Michelle, a school bus driver for Middlebury Community Schools, used to have Mackenzie on her route before she was old enough to drive herself.

"That helped because I had to get up and go to work, and she had to go with me," Michelle said.

Mackenzie's mother speaks with pride as she talks about her daughter's attendance.

The Jarrett family keeps Mackenzie's report card hanging on the refrigerator. Under attendance, there's a column of zeros.

School officials gave Mackenzie 13 yellow roses -- a flower for each year -- and a plaque at Northridge's end-of-the-year assembly.

Throughout the year, others kept a sense of humor about Mackenzie's attendance streak.

One friend joked he'd kidnap Mackenzie to sabotage her.

"I get nervous. We have a few more days of school left. I hope no one puts a boulder in her driveway," Eddy said, laughing, earlier in May.


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