Neighbor-to-Neighbor: Roll call role modelWhen Josh Betterman is handed his high school diploma Sunday, he will have achieved an extremely rare feat. He made it through 13 years of school without missing a day. Not one single day. Ever. For any reason.
By: Jo Colvin, Alexandria Echo Press
When Josh Betterman is handed his high school diploma Sunday, he will have achieved an extremely rare feat.
He made it through 13 years of school without missing a day. Not one single day. Ever. For any reason.
“It’s very rare, they say,” said the 18-year-old son of Chuck and Julie Betterman of Garfield.
When Betterman started his school career at Garfield Elementary School in kindergarten, he didn’t set out to have perfect attendance. It just kind of happened.
“I liked going to school, and as I got older I thought, ‘I haven’t missed a day yet, I don’t want to start now.’ It was that perfect attendance thing.”
At the end of 6th grade, Betterman still hadn’t missed a day. Not even a case of poison ivy kept him away.
“I had poison ivy one year. I had bandages all over me, that was kind of gross,” he said. “But the doctor said I could go.”
His perfect attendance perseverance didn’t go unnoticed. At the end of 6th grade, he was rewarded with a big bag of candy and pop and a gift card.
When he got to Discovery Middle School (DMS) in Alexandria for 7th grade, Betterman realized he was on a roll that he didn’t want to end.
“It seemed like a waste to throw those seven years away,” he said. “I’d come this far, I thought I might as well keep going. All those days you went, you just miss one day and it’s gone.”
Betterman’s apparent super-immune system aided his cause. Throughout elementary school he was sick just once – and that was on a weekend. And in junior high and high school, he was never sick to the point where he couldn’t go to school.
Of course, like any other sleep-deprived teen, there were mornings when lying in bed was tempting, but Betterman never gave in.
“There were some mornings I just wanted to sleep,” he admitted. “There’s stuff I’d rather do than go to school, like hunting and fishing trips. But I go over the weekends or when we don’t have school.”
After yet another three years of perfect attendance at DMS, Betterman earned a day at Casey’s Amusement Park on the last day of school.
But those weren’t the types of incentives Betterman needed to achieve his goal. It was his own determination to succeed, to prove that he could do the near impossible.
The encouragement of his parents and grandparents also helped.
“They would say, ‘Do you think you can do it?’ It was kind of a challenge,” he said.
And the skepticism of his friends, who swore that he would never be able to do it, added fuel to his fire.
“Proving to everyone that I can do it is a really good feeling,” he said.
It was with great pride, and a sigh of relief when, on June 1, Betterman attended his last day at Jefferson High School in Alexandria – perfect attendance record intact. He was rewarded for his determination in front of his entire graduating class on the school’s honors night, June 2.
“Thirteen years is a long time,” he said with a grin.
While he learned academic lessons throughout his uninterrupted school career, he also learned an important lesson about life.
“If you set your mind to something and you really think you can do it, you can do it,” he advised. “Don’t let anybody try to talk you out of it.”
Betterman’s future plans include attending North Dakota State University in Fargo, where he will major in veterinary science.
And you can bet he’ll show up for class.