DOWNEY - Juan Partida has never missed a day of school - ever. Starting with pre-kindergarten up through his senior year at Downey High School, Partida, motivated by his parents, made a conscious decision to never be absent and it's paying off.
"It's quite an accomplishment, not too many students have done that," said Jaime Partida, Juan's father. "We're very blessed. Juan has never given us any problems...he's been a great son to us."
With just days left until graduation, the 17-year-old honor student is now eagerly counting down the hours until June 21 when he will graduate from high school with a complete record of perfect attendance.
"I was scared to miss a day because then the next day you're so far behind," Juan said as he gently rolled a basketball under his foot. "My parents taught me that every day missed is a day you missed something."
For the last seven years, Partida has commuted to Downey Monday through Friday.
Every night he goes to bed before 9 p.m. in order to get up by 6 a.m. every morning.
With his mother Eloisa at the wheel of the family car, Partida travels 50 miles every week from South Los Angeles to Downey in order to attend Downey High School.
"We sent him to Downey because we wanted a better school," said Jaime Partida, who applied for an inter-district permit, which allows his son to attend school in the Downey Unified School District. "I don't want to talk bad about LA Unified, but they're more kickback, they don't push their children. We're sacrificing for a better education."
After noticing his scholastic achievements in primary school, teachers and school administrators suggested Juan be placed in a magnet school, but the Partidas, worried about the rigorous course work, questioned the opportunity.
"He was gifted," said Jaime Partida, 47. "But magnet schools are tougher. We didn't want him to feel imprisoned. He's a child, we wanted him to have a childhood.
"My parents were Hispanic immigrants. They didn't know how to ask me to do homework. They didn't know what college was...I want better for my son," Partida said.
Pamela Morse, Juan's academic counselor at Downey High School, praised Juan and his family for not only promoting attendance, but academics. "He's a very good student - never afraid to come and ask a question," she said.
Morse said Partida is currently earning a 3.76 GPA while taking AP Calculus, AP Economics, AP Chemistry, AP Government and engineering courses. Academically, Juan ranks 59th in his class of more than 900 students.
"Juan is just a regular student, but he can do it because it's important to him - it's important to them," said Morse pointing to his parents. "Not everyone has parents who tell them to go to school, but Juan has parents who do that."
Partida acknowledges his achievements, but is quick to thank his parents while challenging his peers to make education a priority.
"They have to know what's important. I had no special advantages," said Juan who volunteers at Downey Regional Medical Center every Thursday. "They live around here so there shouldn't be any reason they can't."
After submitting several college applications, Juan was accepted to University of California, Merced and University of California, San Diego, but he's decided to instead attend Cal Poly Pomona this fall where he plans to study aerospace or mechanical engineering.
"Classes are longer and harder," he said with a grin. "If I wouldn't miss one here, I wouldn't miss one there."
********** Published: June 14, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 09