No matter how dedicated they are, most students miss a day of school every now and then because of illness or family commitment.

Not Emma McDaniel. The HHS senior was recognized Friday (May 10) for 13 years of perfect attendance.

“It feels really cool,” she said afterward. “In the beginning, like middle school and freshman year, I was like, ‘Oh I don’t really care about this,’ but then as I made it farther and farther, I just thought how cool that accomplishment would be. Not many people do it.”

Only one other HHS graduate in recent memory, in fact.

Principal Bob Cotter, who presented Emma with the attendance award, said the accomplishment says a lot about her.

“Obviously, it shows that Emma is dedicated to her studies and has a really strong work ethic because, you know, part of work ethic is powering through whatever you’re doing,” he told The Ville News. “And it shows other people who you are as a person.”

So, what is Emma’s secret?

 “I never really get sick, like I really don’t,” she said. “I’m super healthy … so it never really became an issue.”

That doesn’t mean she was never tempted, though.

“On days where my friends wouldn’t be there, I would be like ’Oh, it’s not fair they get to miss school,’” she recalled, “and then I’d realize” how great an achievement it would be to finish with perfect attendance.

Once, Emma hurt her shoulder in cheerleading and had to wear a sling. She could have missed a day or two and no one would have thought any less of her, but she didn’t. She still came to school, still went to cheer practice, still helped her teammates from the sideline.

“Emma is a hard worker and dedicated,” said cheerleading coach and English teacher Harlie Fuqua. “She wants to do her very best and then she wants to do better than that the next day. That’s just who she is. If she got hurt, she would still push through if she thought that was what's best for the team.”

Next fall, when Emma attends the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, she’ll have to find her way around campus like any other freshman, but no one should ever have to worry about her finding her way to class.

Story by Nikki Pomohaci and Alfred Allen


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