At first, Matthew Jacobs wasn’t aware of what was happening. Like clockwork, five days a week, 180 days a year, his parents dropped him off at Shell Beach Elementary School.
But by the time Jacobs entered Judkins Middle School in Pismo Beach, he had realized that he came with a track record — perfect attendance.
From that point, maintaining his streak became a personal goal.
“At first, it was my parents keeping me on track,” Jacobs, 18, said last week while milling around Arroyo Grande High School with his classmates, waiting for his commencement ceremony to start. “But in sixth or seventh grade, I thought it would be possible. It became a goal.”
As graduation neared, Jacobs’ father, Mark Frassica, told Arroyo Grande High administrators about his son’s accomplishment.
Principal Tom Butler said school staff checked Jacobs’ attendance record at the high school and called Shell Beach Elementary and Judkins Middle School to confirm that Jacobs did indeed attend every single day of school for 13 years at the Lucia Mar school district.
“As far as the level of accomplishment, it’s amazing,” said Butler, who presented Jacobs with a plaque at the recent senior awards night. “To make that kind of a commitment over that period of time is an Ironman effort, and we’re really proud of Matt.”
It helped that Jacobs rarely caught a cold — or if he did, he pushed himself to attend anyway.
He remembered one five-year stretch where he wasn’t sick at all, and thinks perhaps vitamin supplements helped.
Frassica recalled a few times where he or his wife, Aymee Frassica, had to pick Jacobs up early from school (though Jacobs still got credit for attending).
Now a high school graduate, Jacobs plans to attend Allan Hancock College in the fall. In the meantime, he’ll continue working at McDonald’s and Coco’s restaurant, where he brings the same commitment to perfect attendance.
“I’ve never missed a day,” he said, “but I have been late.”
Cynthia Lambert and Gayle Cuddy write the South County Beat column on alternating Wednesdays. Reach Cynthia Lambert at 781-7929. Stay updated by following @SouthCountyBeat on Twitter.