Perfect school attendanceBARBADIAN GREG SEALY his wife Lynda Harris-Sealy, son Sosthenes and daughter Gennesaret. (GP)
By Tony Best | Sat, May 19, 2012 - 12:02 AM
PERFECT SCHOOL ATTENDANCE over more than a dozen years is highly unusual in the United States but it’s something of a tradition in the Sealy household in Montgomery, Alabama.
For as the two children of Barbadian father Greg Sealy and his wife Lynda Harris-Sealy pursue their dreams of getting a sound education, Sosthenes and his sister Gennesaret have racked up an enviable record in America: both have never missed a day of school in their lives.
And that’s true whether they were in kindergarten, elementary, junior high or high school.
In the case of Sosthenes who will graduate in August with a bachelor’s degree in business, the tradition of a perfect school attendance extends to his four years at Alabama’s Faulkner University.
“I have never failed to be on campus on any day when I was supposed to be at Faulkner,” Sosthenes, 23, told the SATURDAY SUN.
“There are some key benefits you derive from being in school at all times, not being late, paying attention and doing your work. One shows teachers you are interested in what they are teaching and the other is you learn from being there. ”
Gennesaret, who is about to graduate from Loveless Academic Magnet Programme High School in Montgomery with a perfect school attendance record beginning with her entry into kindergarten 13 years ago, agreed but put it differently. School records showed she was never absent and was always punctual.
“It’s important for me to be in school at all times,” the 18-year-old said. “I firmly believe education is a vital gateway for the future. You must have a good foundation, especially in high school, if you want to do well at the university. That’s why I never missed a day, even on the odd occasion when I wasn’t feeling too well. My brother played a role in this because I felt if he could have a perfect attendance record, then I could too.”
Like her brother, Gennesaret thanked God for the good health they enjoyed so they could go to classes every school day and on time.
“It was God’s will,” said the teenager who is entering the University of Alabama to study for a degree in communications and then undergo training in theology so she can follow in her father’s footsteps as a religious minister.
“I want to work with people and a communications degree would be very useful,” she said. “I certainly want to pursue a career in the church.”
Sealy, who grew up in Carrington Village in St Michael, attended different schools in Barbados before going to the West Indies School of Theology in Trinidad and Tobago. He is pastor of an evangelical mission church in Montgomery.
He served at different evangelical churches in Barbados and St Lucia. He emigrated to Canada and then the United States, where he met Lynda and they decided to get married and raise a family.
“If you don’t have a sound education, you will be left behind,” the Bajan said. “I encouraged our children to go to school, be obedient, be respectful to the teachers, pay attention and do their school work. We never had a complaint from the school about them. The opportunity to go to school is God’s gift to us. Our gift to God is to make the most of it.”
His wife shares that view.
“I had to work on a farm [growing up in Alabama] and I was not able to go to school every day,” she recalled. “But I loved going to school.”
It was something the African-American encouraged her children to do as well.
“She would say, ‘You can’t learn if you’re not in school’,” Gennesaret said.
Both sister and brother have visited Barbados on several occasions to see their grandmother and other relatives and they find it a fascinating place.
“I love it,” said Gennesaret.
Hedy Chang of Attendance Works, a national organization based in San Francisco that believes attendance is important, described the case of the Sealy children’s perfect record as “unusual”.
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