Granite Hills High School student Monique Navarro Alvarez, 17, has always loved school. It is no wonder, then, that the Grizzley senior has never missed a day of school in her life.
From kindergarten through her senior year – an approximate 2,331 school days through Monday, and 2,340 once she completes the last nine days of school – she has been, or plans to be, in class, whether in person or online through Zoom.
“I always loved school. And I didn't get sick very often so there was no reason to get out of school,” Navarro said. “I was surprised to hear I had never missed a day. I never questioned going to school. I never thought about it. I just did it. I simply went to school.”
Plus, she said, she always gives her all to everything she does, or she doesn't do it at all, she said.
“If I can't commit or do not like it, I drop it,” Navarro said.
Her classes and extra-curricular activities are just a small part of why she loves school, she said. Navarro is involved in band class where she plays second chair bass clarinet, was on the Academic Decathlon team her sophomore and junior years, is a seal-bearer member of California Scholarship Federation, is in the ACE, Academy of Careers in Education, Pathway program, and is also enrolled in a college-level biology class. In addition, though on pause during COVID-19 times, she also belongs to the Heart Warmers club, where she made small felt blankets for people in the hospital.
Her friends – Alexys Prado, Alexis Garcia and Mia Carabay – also have a lot to do with it, she said.
“My friends are a big part of it,” Alvarez said. “They have classes earlier and were always pushing me to do it. They were always encouraging me, always urging me to get to school early. I think it just felt very natural for me, getting up to school every day.”
One day, she said, she decided she would miss a day of the online classes.
“I was lacking motivation and decided I didn't want to get up,” Navarro said. “I was laying there and I was hit by a wave of guilt. I felt so guilty. I forced myself to get up.”
And when the Zoom class started, she was there – alert and ready.
Navarro said her mother is a big reason for her dedication and attitude towards school.
“My mom was always drilling into my head, emphasizing how important getting an education is,” Navarro said. “At Porterville College, I'm enrolled as an English Major but I am thinking of switching to biology. I'm conflicted right now whether to go into teaching or nursing.”
Her parents, Virginia Alvarez and Benjamin Navarro, are proud of her and her dedication to her studies.
Alvarez said she purposely works the evening shift, to be available in the morning in case she misses the bus or needs help getting to school. But lately, she said, she will get home at 11:30 p.m and find her daughter leaning over her laptop typing and working.
“She has a lot of determination,” Alvarez said. “We are very proud of her. That's why at home, we don't ask much of her. It's her last year of high school and she has plenty to do. I'm happy she is following in her mother's footsteps – nursing.”
And though her attendance is perfect, she struggled a bit when she was younger.
“In second and third grade, they wanted to hold her back. They told me she looked too young to be in those grades,” said Alvarez. “Family has those traits. She did look very young.”
But they didn't want her held back, and Monique wanted to move on to the next year with her friends, her mother said.
“She was a little behind but they gave her some booklets to read over the summer and little by little, she got it,” Alvarez said.
GHHS Principal Apolinar Marroquin said he is impressed with her overall attendance.
“We've had students from kindergarten through 12th in the past with perfect attendance but I am thinking of the last three semesters. She has had no wifi issues, no technology issues. She has been perfect all the way through, in person and with wifi. This young lady has always made sure to have a secure connection every single time. I think I am more impressed at the last three months than the last 10 years. I've never had anything like this before. It's no easy task to reach 95 percent attendance but to have 100, that's impressive.”
GHHS counselor Denise Valadez also praised Navarro.
“She is extremely committed to her education. She's a very dedicated student, really sweet, advocates for herself, asks great questions, and is going to do great,” Valadez said.
Valadez was also impressed with her online status, saying it is easy for students to say they need to watch younger siblings, or are having internet connection problems. It is easy to get excused, she said.
“There's also the lack of motivation during COVID times,” Valadez said. “But she's never given up. She is relentless, has a determined mind-set and achieves all her goals.”