RICHMOND — Anthony Thompson graduated from Richmond High School this month without missing a day of school.
Actually, not once in 13 years.
In fact, he only came close once, said his mother, Sonja Thompson.
"When Anthony was 8, he played Pop Warner football. He had recovered a football and he fractured his elbow," she said. "We stayed in the ER until 3 a.m., but he still got up to go to school. I think the motivation was that he wanted to show everyone his cast."
But the 18-year-old Thompson said he simply didn't want to be out of the loop.
"I just would feel like I'm missing out on something," he said.
Anthony remains soft-spoken, even surprised, when asked about the feat in the weeks following his graduation.
"I hadn't really thought about it," he said. "I just came to school every day."
Plenty of others, though, think pretty highly of the accomplishment.
At RHS' commencement, Thompson was honored, along with several of his classmates, who had long-standing records of perfect attendance for five, even eight years.
But not 13.
"I think that is an admirable accomplishment because it's one of the qualities employers seek in any new employee," RHS Principal Rae Woolpy said. "Attendance is just an issue everywhere. To me, this is indicative of a dedication to not only his academics but forming a lifelong habit."
He was also among the 82 students recognized in this year's School is Cool drawing for a free car, which he did not win. Contestants qualified by having perfect attendance in their senior year and maintaining at least a 2.0 grade point average.
Sonja said she always stressed good attendance at school, but never had a goal for her son to achieve perfect attendance. That changed after Anthony started getting recognized in Texas, where they lived previously, for stringing several years of perfect attendance together.
"Pretty much, I was a mother of no excuses," she said.
Anthony said he will take his attendance record with him first to Ivy Tech Community College and then, after one semester, transfer to Ball State University in Muncie. He plans to study sports management.
While he embarks on college, his 17-year-old sister, Alexa, will attempt to match his accomplishment. She has perfect attendance for 12 consecutive years.
"I think we just got so used to being at school every day that, like, for us to not be at school would be weird," Alexa said. "Even if I had an option to not go to school, I would probably still go because I would feel really out of place not being there."
Sonja said her children made it easy.
"I've been blessed that they have been healthy," she said. "It's a good habit, a good asset to have, They can carry that on into their lives."