COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Eleven students from Midlands-area schools accomplished something in their 12-year educational careers that only 65 students did statewide. They never missed a day of school.
"I just came to school every day. That's what the standard requires you to do," said Dutch Fork graduate Derrian Moreau. "So I figured, why do I need to miss school?"
Moreau is one of two Dutch Fork seniors who graduated with perfect attendance. Prem Patel is the other.
"Every day you learn something," said Patel. "So I thought that if…you do miss a day, then you'll miss out on something important. It was like, the family-driven philosophy to keep it, keep going to school and make sure education comes first."
Patel plans on attending the University of South Carolina to study biomedical engineering and then attend medical school.
Moreau's dedication and hard work earned him a track scholarship to Coker College, where he will study business and accounting.
"It's the thought of representing something," he said. "Representing myself, representing my family, now representing Coker. The thought of representing somebody makes me strive to do my best all the time because I feel when I have the respect for myself I will have success in life."
Chapin High School graduate Mikayla Prioleau is the other Lexington-Richland 5 student who earned the state's perfect attendance award.
"My motto is, 'Anything that I want to do, I can do it. There's nothing I can't do," she said. "There's nothing that anybody can't do if they don't put their mind to it, put the effort into it to actually get the reward."
In Lexington One, Pelion High students Jennifer Cirmella and Charlene Wise and White Knoll High student Kendell Hiller graduated with perfect attendance.
Cirmella was a member of PHS Student Council, Honor Choir, Serenata Choir and a varsity cheerleader. She plans to attend the University of South Carolina Aiken to prepare for a career in obstetrics and gynecology.
Cirmella says despite suffering from a health issue, she wanted to beat her older sister's record of 10 1/2 years of perfect attendance.
"Even though I have an admiration for her, there was always competition where I knew I wanted to beat my sister's number of years," she said. "Call it a sister thing."
"I was at an age to where I may not have had the complete understanding of what perfect attendance would mean to my future, but I knew it was a goal that I wanted," said Cirmella. "It started out knowing as a child that I had to go to school every day because education was top priority to my mother."
Wise also was a PHS varsity cheerleader. She plans to study nursing at Aiken Technical College.
Hiller was on the White Knoll varsity football and track teams. He plans to study marketing and communications at Midlands Technical College.
Carlin Fellers of Mid-Carolina High School graduates ranked third in his class. He was active in the Beta Club, football, and soccer. Fellers received the 2013 Newberry Touchdown Club Academic Award and is a Palmetto Fellows Scholar. He received early acceptance into Clemson University's engineering program where he will study mechanical engineering.
"To this point I have been fortunate enough to achieve my goals through the support of family, church and a great desire to succeed," Fellers said.
"Every day in school has a special significance; a significance which cannot be duplicated by any other," said Mid-Carolina Principal Ray Cooper. "Carlin is looked upon by his peers and teachers as being a hardworking and dependable student."
In Richland One, Lower Richland High School graduate Kendrick Cory Jackson and Dreher High School graduate Savanna Katherine Cruel never missed a day of school.
"I never thought I could make it from kindergarten through eighth grade," said Jackson. "But after that, I felt like I could do this. Even on senior cut day, I came to school."
Jackson was a member of the Diamond Hornets drum line and plans to study electrical engineering at Savannah State University.
Cruel participated in band and was a member of the National Honor Society and Beta Club. She will study early childhood education at Francis Marion University.
Diamond Carter and Clayton Williams never missed a day of school in the Sumter district.
Carter was in marching band, drama club, student government, ROTC, took honors and AP courses and 2013 State Fair Princess. She earned academic and athletic scholarships at Coker College.
Williams was a member of student government, band, ROTC and took honors and AP courses. He plans to attend study as a Life Scholar at the University of South Carolina.
All information and names included in this story were provided by the South Carolina Department of Education and the individual school districts.