DOWNEY – To many, missing a day of school or work due to illness or other type of worthy reason would be something that one wouldn’t lose sleep over.
But for two Downey Unified students, the idea of missing a day of school for any reason was something that wasn’t even a thought; and on Friday, June 2, Downey High School (DHS) will be graduating these two devoted students who have never missed a day of school.
They are the only two students within Downey Unified to graduate this year with perfect attendance.
Having never missed school in his 13 years since kindergarten, Downey High School’s Kyle Vasquez is one of these dedicated students. He attended Rio San Gabriel Elementary, East Middle School (as it was named until Vasquez completed his eighth-grade year), then DHS, being an avid athlete playing baseball all four years at DHS.
He credits a portion of his commitment to the teachers at DHS, in particular, Mrs. Ramirez. Vasquez was enrolled in her English class his freshman year and, now a senior, was lucky enough to be in her class again.
“She is just the type of teacher that you can tell really cares about her students,” expressed Vasquez.
But this wasn’t the only reason. Vasquez’ father, Alex, was also a huge catalyst behind his perfect attendance; originally promising Vasquez a vehicle upon graduation if this achievement was realized.
Even through very trying times when his mother was fighting cancer, unfortunately losing the battle, he still did not miss a day of school.
Last year, the incentive changed, however. Vasquez now no longer wanted a brand-new car; the car he currently had was in good condition and he put his sights on other goals. What he wanted now was to go on a trip with his father so he began to save up as he continued his perfect-attendance streak.
“He first wanted a new car,” expressed Alex Vasquez, Kyle’s father. “Then he wanted to take a trip, just the two of us… then as he began to save up money, he decided he might just want to continue saving for his future instead of spending it on a trip.”
With less than two weeks left before graduation, this 13-year goal is now truly becoming a reality. Vasquez will attend Long Beach State in the fall where he will be studying Business Economics.
Akhila Nallamilli is the second devoted student that will be receiving a diploma on June 2 having never missed a day of school.
Nallamilli transferred to Downey Unified as a third-grade student, attending Ward and Carpenter elementary schools, Sussman Middle School, then DHS.
She credits a portion of her commitment to attending school without fail to her allegiance to education.
“I never wanted to miss a day because I never wanted to fall behind or miss anything,” expressed Nallamilli.
Moving from India when she was six-years old, she attended schools in Redlands, Calif., before moving to Downey. Nallamilli also recognizes her parents for being a large influence in her perfect attendance feat.
Similar to Vasquez, Nallamilli also gives gratitude to two teachers she feels assisted her along the way, Mr. Young and Mr. Hwang. Enrolled in their Honors Biology and Principles of Biomedical Science classes her freshman year then fortuitous enough to be under both of their instruction for AP Biology and Medical Interventions her senior year, Nallamilli will be following her passion for Biology that she acquired at DHS.
“Taking the Medical Intervention Pathway really made my interest in this subject even more profound,” stated Nallamilli.
She will graduate with a cumulative district weighted 4.17 GPA and attend the University of California, Santa Barbara, in the fall to study Biology pre-med.
“With one main facet of our vision to graduate all students with a 21st Century education that ensures they are college and career ready, being in class as much as possible is a critical piece,” said Downey Unified superintendent Dr. John Garcia.
“Kyle and Akhila are truly great examples of our vision in practice and I, along with the Board of Education, can’t wait to see the amazing achievements these two exceptional individuals will attain after graduation.”