12 years, no misses for Ryan trio

Three loc­al stu­dents logged per­fect at­tend­ance re­cords.

Greg Soussa (left), Kaitlyn Mc­Gar­rigle, and Mike Palmer, who’ll be gradu­at­ing from Arch­bish­op Ry­an High School on Monday, June 4, had per­fect at­tend­ance for 12 years. (Tom War­ing)

When a couple mil­lion people cel­eb­rated the Phil­lies’ World Series cham­pi­on­ship by lin­ing the streets for a vic­tory parade on Oct. 31, 2008, then fresh­men Greg Soussa, Mike Palmer and Kaitlyn Mc­Gar­rigle were sit­ting in class at Arch­bish­op Ry­an High School.

And when the Ry­an 12th-graders or­gan­ized “Seni­or Cut Day” on May 15 of this year, Greg, Mike and Kaitlyn went to school in­stead.

In fact, the three teen­agers at­ten­ded class each day of their four years at Ry­an. And they were at their desks for all eight years of grade school.

On Monday, dur­ing gradu­ation ce­re­mon­ies at Temple Uni­versity’s Liac­our­as Cen­ter, the trio will be re­cog­nized for their com­mit­ment to at­tend­ing classes every day for the last 12 years.

The teens of­fi­cially com­pleted the feat on Thursday, when the 428 seni­ors had to re­port to school for a couple of hours in the morn­ing be­fore at­tend­ing Ry­an’s Bac­ca­laur­eate Mass that even­ing at the Cathed­ral Ba­silica of Saints Peter and Paul.

They agreed that the key to per­en­ni­al per­fect at­tend­ance is stay­ing healthy.

“I nev­er get sick,” Kaitlyn said.

Kaitlyn, 17, spent kinder­garten through eighth grade at St. Kath­er­ine of Si­ena in Tor­res­dale. Mike, 18, com­pleted the same years at St. An­selm in Park­wood. Greg, 17, at­ten­ded Wat­son Comly Ele­ment­ary School for kinder­garten be­fore mov­ing on to St. Chris­toph­er in Somer­ton.

None re­call wheth­er they missed any time in kinder­garten, or wheth­er teach­ers even kept com­plete at­tend­ance re­cords. They all fin­ished eighth grade, they be­lieve, as the only ones in their re­spect­ive gradu­at­ing classes to earn per­fect at­tend­ance.

Greg re­mem­bers get­ting an ex­tra push to­ward per­fect at­tend­ance as he neared the end of his eighth-grade year.

“My mom said they’d men­tion it at gradu­ation and that I should keep go­ing for it,” he said.

Greg’s mom and Mike’s mom both woke up their sons every morn­ing for school.

“I think my mom wanted per­fect at­tend­ance more than me,” Mike joked.

For Kaitlyn, it was an alarm clock that awakened her each morn­ing.

At Ry­an, stu­dents must be in home­room by 7:40 a.m.

Greg some­times went to bed early after pun­ish­ing lacrosse prac­tices and games and usu­ally woke up around 6:30 a.m. He was nev­er late.

“I tried to be on time,” he said.

Mike’s head nev­er hit the pil­low be­fore mid­night, and Kaitlyn is a real night owl.

“I stayed up till three in the morn­ing some­times,” she said.

Mike and Kaitlyn rolled out of bed about 7 o’clock.

“I was late once [dur­ing] my ju­ni­or year. My ride was late. I was get­ting antsy,” Mike said.

“I was late a lot,” Kaitlyn ac­know­ledged. “I hit ‘snooze’ and over­slept, or my rides were late. I’m ter­rible in the morn­ing. I get up at the last minute.”

None had time to eat break­fast in the morn­ing, but all were still able to main­tain pretty good grades.

Over the years, Mike had a few close calls, in­clud­ing an ex­cused ab­sence to at­tend his grand­fath­er’s fu­ner­al in sev­enth grade.

As a second-grader on Tues­day, Sept. 11, 2001, he had a doc­tor’s ap­point­ment in the morn­ing and planned to re­port to St. An­selm af­ter­ward. Of course, that was the day ter­ror­ists crashed hi­jacked planes in­to the World Trade Cen­ter, the Pentagon and a field in Somer­set County.

“They said the may­or let every­one out of school that day,” he said.

As a fresh­man, he turned down a trip to Six Flags Great Ad­ven­ture dur­ing a school day.

“My friend in­vited me. I didn’t go. I said no. I wanted to keep per­fect at­tend­ance,” he said.

In gen­er­al, Mike didn’t want to miss school be­cause he’d fall be­hind.

“The worst feel­ing in the world is makeup work,” he said.

An over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of seni­ors were “sick” on May 15, which was “Seni­or Cut Day.” Some stu­dents re­covered in time to at­tend the Phil­lies’ af­ter­noon game that day.

Classes were held that day for seni­ors, with as few as a half-dozen kids in each room. Mike, who played foot­ball at the school, tried to count how many class­mates showed up.

“I was walk­ing around the hall­ways and got up to sev­enty-sev­en,” he said.

There were even few­er mem­bers of the class of 2012 who showed up for school on Hal­loween four years ago, when the Phil­lies held their vic­tory parade through the streets of Cen­ter City and South Phil­adelphia.

“I had to keep per­fect at­tend­ance,” Kaitlyn said in ex­plain­ing why she went to school.

Greg’s de­cision was easi­er. He was re­cov­er­ing from a knee in­jury suffered in foot­ball prac­tice.

“I was on crutches. There was no point go­ing down,” he said of avoid­ing the mob of people.

Greg’s biggest chal­lenge was go­ing to school the day after his in­jury.

“I prob­ably should have stayed home. I was in so much pain. I made it to sev­enth peri­od,” he said.

Now that their days at Ry­an are over, all three will be head­ing off to col­lege.

Greg will at­tend Blooms­burg Uni­versity. He’s un­de­cided on a ma­jor.

Mike will study com­mu­nic­a­tions at Kutztown and, like Greg, spend the sum­mer work­ing as a life­guard at a wa­ter at­trac­tion in Wild­wood, N.J.

Kaitlyn will en­roll at Bucks County Com­munity Col­lege to pur­sue a psy­cho­logy de­gree.

While col­lege pro­fess­ors might not be as vi­gil­ant as Cath­ol­ic school teach­ers in keep­ing at­tend­ance, none of the soon-to-be Ry­an grads plan to cut any classes.

“Why start now?” Greg asked. ••

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­ing@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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