Laraya Griffith of FHN Never Missed Out

Posted on 06/01/2017
Laraya dressed in her cap and gown with several medals.

In case you missed it, Laraya Griffith never missed out. Laraya just graduated from Francis Howell North (FHN) High School, and she never missed a thing. Literally. She had perfect attendance in school, from the first day of kindergarten through the last day of high school. From Becky-David Elementary, to Barnwell Middle School, to FHN, Laraya’s story proves that a little perseverance and motivation can take a person all the way to perfection.

Laraya’s older brother Brenton graduated in 2013 with the same accomplishment, so it must be a family thing. “I missed a lot,” Cassandra Griffith, Laraya’s mother, confessed. Laraya’s grandfather missed only a half day of school, and that was because he moved, so certainly persistence runs in the family. Out of Cassandra’s five children, two have had perfect attendance, and the other three missed just a few days here and there. “I encouraged them that they would miss out on lessons and learning,” Cassandra said, “things that – if they were there – they would be taught instead of having to figure it out on their own.”

Laraya bought in, despite her initial youthful reservations. “At the beginning, it was hard to go every day,” Laraya said. “As time passed, I wanted to be there so I wouldn't miss assignments and be behind in class.” Ah, but was it worth it? Laraya thinks so. “I got to attend important events at school,” she said, and that means all of them, “and I did not get behind in homework and note-taking.”

Attendance is truly important to the success of students, and studies have demonstrated the connection between poor attendance and lower test and proficiency scores (Absences Add-Up explains this in more detail). But sometimes it’s just so hard to say no to a sick kid who wants to stay home. Cassandra said, “A lot of kids miss school because they are tired and they may think they are sick.” However … she added, far too accurately, “They get better fast when school is over.”

Any school nurse will tell you, if you have a fever or have been vomiting in the last 24 hours, please do stay home. That will help keep your illness from spreading to others. But sometimes a little negotiation can help. Cassandra would tell her children, “If you do stay home because you are sick, you stay in bed to get better – which means no TV, and lots of rest. That helped them to want to go to school if they had to stay in bed.”

Cassandra never really had to talk Laraya into anything, however, though she encouraged her to attend every day. “About second or third grade,” Cassandra said, “it became Laraya’s mission to not miss school, and I didn't have to bring up the idea. She wanted to go every day; she didn't want to miss at all.”

Laraya did make some sacrifices to attain her lofty goal. She didn’t go on trips that required missing days, and she certainly didn’t take part in any of those “Senior Skip Days” that were popular in the past. What she gained, however, is far more valuable. When it came to learning in the classroom or enjoying the outstanding activities in FHSD, thanks to her family’s trademark perseverance, and a little encouragement from mom, Laraya Griffith didn’t miss a thing.

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