By Tammy Gray
Holbrook High School senior Nikko Ferniza has accomplished a feat that few students aspire to, let alone accomplish. He has not missed a single day of school since kindergarten.
“I just woke up and came to school every day,” Nikko said. “It felt wrong not to.”
It wasn’t always that way, however, as Nikko explained that it all started with a small exaggeration by his parents. At a young age he did not want to go to school and his parents told him that if he didn’t go, he could end up in jail.
“I was so scared,” he said, explaining that he did his best not to miss school.
As he built up a long-running streak of attendance, he consciously decided to try to avoid any absences. By eighth grade, his parents added an incentive by offering him a car upon graduation if he made it through high school without missing a single day. He chose a 1969 Chevy Camaro.
“It’s already in the garage,” he said.
The Camaro has turned into a family restoration project, and he has worked alongside his dad, grandfather, uncle and cousin to complete it. It’s just about finished and is in the process of being painted.
Besides earning a car, he pointed out that his attendance streak has helped him become more responsible.
“I try not to be late for anything else because people know. I feel like I’m supposed to be places on time without missing,” he remarked.
His wrestling coach, for example, gave him a hard time when he was running late for practice one day, noting that he was about to destroy his perfect record.
Nikko noted that it hasn’t always been easy. When he was sick, he would try not to let it show so that he wouldn’t get sent to the nurse, and ultimately, home.
“When I was actually sick I had to play it off like I wasn’t so they wouldn’t send me to the nurse,” he said.
He noted that the end of the school year was difficult, and it was hard to resist the urge to skip the last day or two of school. He also faced a challenge when his father was in a serious motorcycle accident and was in the hospital in Flagstaff.
“I was up till 2 a.m. at the hospital with him, but he told me I needed to get to school, so I came home, slept a little and went to school,” he said.
Now that he is graduating, Nikko plans to join his father in his locksmith business and take classes at Northland Pioneer College.
While his record is a rare accomplishment, it may not stand for long. Coming up right behind him is an HHS junior who also has a perfect attendance record with just one more school year to finish.
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By Tammy Gray