Ashanti Palmer is the valedictorian for the Class of 2020 at Nellie A. Thornton High School and the Performing & Visual Arts Magnet Program.
The graduating senior is said to have garnered “perfect attendance” for the entirety of her educational experience in the Mount Vernon City School District beginning in Pre-K.
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“There were days when I didn’t feel like going to school, but I knew if you missed a day then you were behind, so I pushed through,” she told “Good Morning America.” “[My friends] know I hate being behind in my work so it was normal for me to show up.”
Dr. Kenneth R. Hamilton, Mount Vernon City School District Superintendent described Palmer’s achievements as “nothing short of remarkable.”
“We strive to ensure our students graduate from here college- and career-ready, and Ashanti is a testament to that goal. Her perfect attendance record throughout her many years in the District have helped build a foundation of academic excellence that she will utilize in the next chapter as a student of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute,” Hamilton said, according to an announcement on the district’s website.
The 17-year-old, who realized at 10th grade that she hadn’t missed a day of school, said: “Being named valedictorian feels good because it shows that all the hard work I’ve put in over the years has paid off, and that effort is being celebrated in a big way.”
“In terms of my perfect attendance, it wasn’t something that I sought out. I knew that showing up to school every day was important because even missing one day can set you back. It wasn’t until 10th grade that I realized I hadn’t missed a day, and then I wanted to keep up the streak.”
Palmer’s principal, Dr. Evelyn Collins, said the 17-year-old was determined to be the very best. “She’s amazing,” Collins told GMA. “I told our superintendent, ‘We have a student who’s never missed school and who has been on the honor roll since kindergarten.’ How do we celebrate this child so other students can see that it’s possible? She stayed on the path. She stayed on the journey. It’s phenomenal.”