Nearly 16 years ago, a little girl looked at the newspaper her mother was reading and was inspired.

That day, a student was featured for having perfect attendance from kindergarten through Grade 12. Emily Dougherty told her mom she would do that, too.

Now, as she prepares to graduate from Whiteland Community High School, Dougherty has accomplished her goal.

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“My little 3-year-old self was determined to never miss a day of school, and here I am,” Dougherty said.

“It’s an amazing feeling to be able to look back and just accomplish a goal that took a long time to accomplish. It kind of inspires me that I can accomplish the other goals that I’ve set for myself within the future because I have accomplished one of the longest goals.”

Two Johnson County graduates have had perfect attendance throughout their entire time in school: Franklin Community High School senior Katelyn Dearth and Dougherty, who were in class every day from kindergarten through their senior year. Fellow Whiteland senior Elizabeth Kelso never missed a day during her high school career.

Other local high schools said they did not have any students with perfect attendance throughout their entire education.

The teens credit their healthy immune systems for never forcing them to break their perfect streak. Earlier this year, Dearth’s siblings all came down with the same sickness, but she miraculously did not catch it, she said. Her siblings had hoped to have perfect attendance as well, but now are out of the running, Dearth said.

Dougherty’s twin brothers, who are juniors at Whiteland this year, are on track to follow in their sister’s footsteps, she said.

“They’ve come so far, so they know that just a little bit more and they can have something that not many people accomplish,” Dougherty said.

Dougherty and her brothers grew up on a farm, which is what Dougherty believes has kept her healthy for so long, she said.

“Because we live on a farm, I’m always outside, so that kind of built up my immune system,” Dougherty said. “I’ve had the occasional cold, but it’s been usually over the weekends.”

Dougherty made an exception in her perfect-attendance rule for FFA competitions during the school day, since they’re school-approved. But when it came to scheduling a visit with a doctor or dentist, Dougherty always insisted on an after-school appointment, so she wouldn’t miss class, Dougherty said.

Dearth recalls missing one day of school for an approved field trip, but she wouldn’t purposely stay home because she knew she’d have homework to make up, she said. Instead, she wanted to go to school and not fall behind, Dearth said.

“I’m really surprised that more people haven’t,” Dearth said. “I’m glad I stuck it through.”

All three teens plan on continuing a perfect streak in college. They made sure to include their attendance record on college, scholarship and job applications, too.

“I feel like it’s kind of a unique factor,” Dougherty said. “I don’t know if that helped, but I think it’s a neat attribute to be able to write.”

Dearth’s parents always reminded her that employers will consider her attendance as a positive quality, because they will know that employee will be reliable and show up to work, Dearth said.

They also say their accomplishment will help them in landing a job, they said.

“It’s good to know that you’re going to be present and attending class,” Kelso said. “Being prompt and present is very important in the workforce and in college.”

The Dougherty File

Name: Emily Dougherty

Age: 18

School: Whiteland Community High School

Major feat: Never missed a day of school from kindergarten through grade 12

Future plans: Attend Purdue University and major in agriculture communications

The Dearth File

Name: Katelyn Dearth

Age: 18

School: Franklin Community High School

Major feat: Never missed a day of school from kindergarten through grade 12

Future plans: Attend Franklin College, majoring in studio art and psychology

The Kelso File

Name: Elizabeth Kelso

Age: 18

School: Whiteland Community High School

Major feat: Never missed a day of high school

Future plans: Attend Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, studying neuroscience