Staying in bed, tucked under covers and moaning about a sniffle or bellyache would not be behavior of Oakdale High School graduating senior Jaycee Harden. The 2015 OHS graduate was recognized earlier this month at the school board meeting for an educational career of Perfect Attendance.
“Most everybody is aware of Common Core,” Superintendent Marc Malone stated at the meeting, “but what most people don’t realize is that Common Core originally started out to be called the College and Career Readiness Skills. I really wish the state would have remained placing their emphasis on that particular term.
“As we look at industry and as industry weighs in on key components that lead to success, at the top of the list is punctuality and attendance. So, when we have a student that starts school as a kindergartner and then attends school all the way through the 12th grade and never misses a single day of school, then I would say this student is well on her way to College and Career Readiness.”
The graduate attended Kindergarten through eighth grade at Knights Ferry School, before moving on to Oakdale High School.
“I don’t get super sick,” the 18-year-old said. “Maybe I’m just lucky, because when I do get super sick it seems to be on the weekend.”
On the days when she did feel too sick to go to school, she shared her mom would give her some medicine and encourage her to at least try.
“School’s important,” Harden said. “Not very many people in my family have gone to school and I don’t want to be another person to just not go to school and get stuck working at a fast food restaurant.”
The oldest of three girls, Harden shared her two younger sisters are maintaining the same standard.
“I know it’s supposed to be a big deal,” she said of the recognition, “but to me it’s just natural. You’re supposed to go to school. That’s what you’re supposed to do. That’s what the teachers say, you need to learn.
“It’s important to me, because I want to complete school. I want to go to college. I want to do more.”
The 2015 graduate shared she has her immediate goal now set on Columbia College and later Stanislaus State University with an interest in pursuing teaching. Her love for young kids and sharing her passion for knowledge is something she hopes to someday take to a classroom.
“They just make me happy,” she said of young children. “I just love being around them. I just want to be an inspiration to them. Someone they can look up to and remember when they’re graduating high school.
I still remember my Kindergarten teacher, she was my favorite person. That’s what I want, for them to remember me.”
As she looks to the future she’s excited about the opportunity of starting this next chapter of her life. An opportunity to pursue an interest she is passionate about.
“I think more people should pursue being at school every day,” she said of her achievement, “because it is an opportunity to learn. You don’t have to pay to be here. It’s free.”
Like most students embarking on the next chapter of their lives, Harden recognizes it has not been easy. She has faced a life of challenge, hurdles and setbacks, yet despite it all she maintained focus on the prize … graduation.
“It’s not always easy,” she said, “but you can do it. I’ve been through a lot, but I’ve made it. Don’t ever give up. Yeah, it’s gonna get hard. It’s gonna get very hard, but you can do it. If you want it, if you really, really want it ... you can do it. It’s not impossible.”