Wednesday, June 12, 2013 | 2 a.m.
Natasha Greene's 5 tips for achieving perfect attendance
• Set two or more alarm clocks to make sure you never oversleep and miss the beginning of the school day.
• Stay current on flu shots, eat healthy and try to get a reasonable amount of sleep (with try being the operative word).
• Keep the mindset that, to get the most out of your classes, you must be present.
• Focus on reasons to be at school rather than on excuses to stay home.
• While it may seem overwhelming to think about having perfect attendance for years, it really is doable if you just take it one day at a time!
When Natasha Greene was in elementary school, she set herself a lofty goal: Make it to graduation without missing a single day of school.
Last Friday, the 18-year-old senior did just that, graduating from Las Vegas High School with a perfect attendance record from kindergarten through 12th grade.
That means for the past 13 years — or 2,340 school days — Greene has never missed a day of school. Not a single one.
Not only that, Greene finished her schooling with a perfect 4.0 GPA, becoming a valedictorian of her high school.
Talk about a perfect student.
"It was something that after I started, I wasn't about to stop," Greene said, smiling. "My grades are very important to me, and I didn't want to get behind."
Green chalks up her rare accomplishment to luck, endurance and determination.
When Greene was nearly 4 years old, she suffered a massive hemorrhage after a routine tonsillectomy. She was hospitalized for about a week after losing more than half of her blood.
"She almost didn't make it," her mother, Sonya Greene, said. "But she came back healthier than ever."
For the next 13 years, Natasha Greene was lucky enough to never fall ill — at least during the school year.
"I always had my flu shot early and I was vaccinated for everything," she said. "The vaccinations must work really well. I only got sick during the holidays."
Natasha Greene was also seemingly immune to "senioritis," a common affliction among high school seniors. Toward the end of the senior year, some students start missing classes and letting their grades slip.
Despite taking four Advanced Placement classes and signing up for myriad extracurricular activities — such as choir and Nevada Youth Legislature — Natasha Greene's work ethic and grades never wavered. And even during senior cut day, when many students play hooky, Greene was determined to maintain her perfect record.
"It was kind of hard knowing that's a tradition I didn't get to be a part of, but it's worth it now," she said. "I wasn't about to miss a day of school for breakfast at iHop at noon."
Natasha Greene credited her parents — her attorney dad and her stay-at-home mom — for instilling in her the importance of hard work and education.
"My parents always said, 'Whatever grades you get, just do your best," she said. "It wasn't OK with me. I knew that my best was to reach my goals."
To support Natasha, the Greenes decided early on that school was going to be their family's top priority, said Sonya Greene, a longtime parent volunteer.
That has meant rescheduling doctor's and dentist's appointments as well as missing some vacations with extended family, including a December cruise when Natasha was in seventh grade.
"It wasn't a question; it wasn't a debate. When school's in session, that's where she should be," Sonya Greene said. "We shouldn't plan things that take her away from that."
"We only get so much time of free education," Natasha Greene added. "Why not take full advantage of it?"
Last month, Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky presented Natasha Greene with a special plaque to commemorate her accomplishment. Although a few students have graduated with perfect grades, it's a rare feat to graduate with perfect attendance as well.
"I know it's just being there, but just being there all the time is a pretty amazing feat," Sonya Greene said, beaming. "She's been a wonderful daughter. We're very proud of what she's accomplished."
This fall, Natasha Greene will be heading to Barnard College, the women's college affiliated with Columbia University in New York. She plans to study premedicine and says she hopes to continue her perfect record.
"I'm going to do my best, but I'm not going to stress myself so much (about maintaining perfect attendance and grades)," she said. "At that level, it'll be a lot more challenging, but I'm going to try my absolute hardest to be there for every single class.
"You have to be there to learn. You need to be present to succeed."