By Jesse Wood
June 17, 2014. While it’s rare for a high school student to go to class every single day of a school year (especially in 2014), Avery High School Principal Todd Griffin said it’s “extremely rare” for a student to go to class every single day from the moment one enters kindergarten to the last day of 12th grade.
But Makenzi Hayes, 18, of Elk Park, did just that, and she received a standing ovation from her peers at the AHS graduation ceremony held last Friday evening.
“She was so shocked about the standing ovation,” her mom Romona Hayes said.
Makenzi attended Freedom Trail Elementary, Cranberry Middle School and then, of course, Avery High School. After Makenzi found out that she hadn’t yet missed a day of school into her middle school years, she said she made a goal of trying not to miss one day of her entire grade school career.
Asked if she ever got sick, Makenzi said, “Nope. Not really. That’s most of why I hadn’t missed school because I don’t really get sick.”
That was unlike her mom when she was in school.
“Listen, when I was a kid and I went to school, I was always sick. I could have never done that. I could have never gone one year without missing,” Romona said. “Really, it just worked out that way.”
Romona added that she was told by a school official that this only happened one or two other times years ago.
Romona said that in the future she would like to see a scholarship – if only $100 or $150 – created for students like Makenzi that excel in making it to school every single day. Romona said her family searched all around for that type of scholarship but none was to be found.
“I think it would be awesome for at some point to maybe try to do that,” Romona said.
Makenzi wasn’t just making it to school, but she was doing well in the classroom, too. Principal Griffin praised Makenzi for her effort while at Avery High School.
“She is a good student – never had discipline problems with her. She made the most of her academic experience at Avery High while in the Avery County Schools system,” Griffin said. “We are very proud of her.”
Come the fall, Makenzi will be off at East Tennessee State University, where she intends to major in nursing.
“I am pretty excited about it,” Makenzi said. “It will be different.”