Always present: Decatur grad finishes school with perfect attendance

By Richard Greene | Published Wednesday, June 6, 2018
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On the annual senior skip day, Nash Cooper felt a little pressure from his peers to take the day off.

He consulted briefly with his mother Mika.

Nash Cooper. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“He asked me if he could skip. I didn’t say no. But I asked him, ‘you went all those days and want to ruin that?’ He made the choice on his own,” Mika Cooper said.

And like all the days of the previous 13 years, Nash was present to keep his perfect attendance streak going. The streak continued all the way through his final day at Decatur High School in May – 13 years and no absences.

“I didn’t really think about it,” Nash said. “It wasn’t like my goal to have perfect attendance. It just kind of happened.”

Along the way, Nash admitted his mother provided a gentle nudge to go to class each day.

“My mom was always pushing for it. She wanted me to go to school,” he said. “I didn’t want to do make-up work. It just didn’t make any sense to me. Why would I skip school for something pretty minor just so I’d have to make up even more work?”

Part of Mika’s urging for Nash centered from the passing of two of his siblings Chaynee and Gage of Alper’s syndrome, a progressive neurologic disorder, before they could even start school. Chaynee died in 2001 at 4 years old when Nash was only 10-months old. Gage died two years later.

“My daughter [Chaynee] was so wanting to start kindergarten. It’s all she talked about,” Mika said. “I told him when he was starting preschool to go and learn for her.”

Even with his siblings ill, Nash went to preschool every day with help from Mika’s parents.

“He had to grow up fast with everything going on,” she said.

Through elementary and middle school, Nash never had a serious cold to keep him from class. Even when he was feeling under the weather and went to school, he made sure he wasn’t contagious.

“I did get sick a couple of times but not that often,” he said. “But I still went to school through it all.”

By high school, he developed a reputation for his dependability that stretched beyond the classroom to band and athletics.

He did recall one Saturday basketball practice he missed as a sophomore.

“He scheduled a Saturday practice, and I didn’t know about it. I ran the most I’d ever ran in one setting and never missed another. I felt so bad,” Nash said.

His absence prompted a call from basketball coach Drew Coffman afterward with genuine concern.

“He’s one of those guys if he’s not there, you begin to worry. He’s always there and takes such pride in doing a good job,” Coffman said. “I don’t think people appreciate what he’s done to go 13 years and not miss a day of work. That’s incredible. He’s going to make someone a heck of an employee one day.”

Nash is headed to Texas A&M in the fall to study computer engineering. He’s built two of his three 3D printers.

In college, he plans on keeping his perfect attendance streak going.

“[College] is too expensive. I’ve worked too hard and had so much stress just to see if I could get in,” Nash said. “Now that I’m in, I’m taking it serious.”

His perfect attendance impressed his current employer at Hey Sugar. He hopes it helps him land a job in the future also, where he’s not expecting any days off.

“It’d be great going through life never missing anything – perfect attendance in everything,” he said.

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