Going the 13-year distance

Danielle Edeline, who graduated from Archbishop Ryan on June 3, just finished her 13th year in a row with perfect attendance. What’s her secret?

Danielle Edeline | Photo by Tom Beck

Every school day, schoolchildren across the country will fake illness or injury in a typically unsuccessful attempt to get out of the day’s learning activities at school. It’s up to parents to snuff out these deceptive practices, and usually they’re successful in doing so. But Jeff and Judy Edeline are two parents in Port Richmond who didn’t have to deal with that issue, at least with one of their children. That’s because the Edelines’ youngest daughter, Danielle Edeline, who graduated from Archbishop Ryan on June 3, just finished her 13th year in a row with perfect attendance. What’s her secret?

“There’s really no secret,” she said. “It’s just that if you want to do it you have to really want it and go for it.”

According to Danielle, who went to Richmond Elementary from kindergarten to fifth grade and attended AMY at James Martin School from sixth to eighth grade, she was lucky, to some extent. Sometimes, when she’d get really sick, it would be on weekends or days when school wasn’t scheduled. But other times, she’d just have to tough it out. One particularly rough patch happened when she was in fourth grade. After going to school on a Thursday and Friday not feeling so great, she went to the doctor over the weekend hoping to find the reason behind her stomach pain. Sure enough, the physician diagnosed her with salmonella poisoning. The effects lingered into the following week, but sure enough, Danielle fought through the illness after being put on a special diet by the doctor and didn’t miss a minute of school.

Danielle Edeline on her graduation day earlier this month | photo submitted by Danielle Edeline

“I didn’t know that it was salmonella poisoning, but I went to school sick,” she said. “Then that weekend, I couldn’t get out of bed and [my parents] were like, all right, let’s take you over [to the doctor] and I had salmonella poisoning.”

There was one other close call: Danielle’s sophomore year of high school, she went to school while having the flu.

“My dad was like, ‘If you need to leave school, go to the nurse and we’ll come pick you up,’ ” she said.

Danielle went to school, and sure enough started feeling very ill. It got so bad she started throwing up and went down to the nurse.

“[My parents] came to pick me up and I started crying in the office because [the school] told me if I left I would get marked absent,” she said. “So I was like, ‘I’ll just stay.’ ”

To the inspiration of her peers, Danielle stayed in school the entire rest of the day.

“There was a student I was leaving class with the next period who was about to leave because he was sick also, but he saw me crying and heard my story that I had perfect attendance and he was like, ‘You inspired me to stay in school.’ ”

According to Judy, Danielle missed out on some great experiences because she wanted so badly to be in school.

“Last year she was chosen from the Police Athletic League to go down to City Hall and shadow the mayor,” Judy said. “She passed it up because they were going to mark her absent.”

Both Jeff and Judy acknowledge that they never pushed Danielle to meet her goal. Even Danielle admits it was all her.

“It was mainly me,” she said. “My parents always said that I could stay home if I really needed to, but I just cried because I didn’t want to miss school.”

For good measure, Danielle, who also played on the volleyball and softball teams at Ryan, also never missed a game or a practice, so you can add that to the list.

Now that Danielle is finished with high school, she hopes to continue her streak as she enters her freshman year at Temple University in the fall. She’s going in undeclared, but has ambitions of eventually going either to law school or medical school, which means she could potentially extend her attendance streak even beyond getting a bachelor’s degree.

“In eighth grade, a teacher told me that in order to succeed, you have to do the things you don’t feel like doing,” Danielle said. “Even if I didn’t feel like going to school, you have to go, it’s your future. There’s really no secret, it’s just that if you want to do it you have to really want it and go for it.”