CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Denisa McBee's fifth-grade class was just perfect this year.
All 21 of the students in her Mathis Intermediate School class in Corpus Christi earned perfect attendance honors, answering a challenge that began after no one missed class for the first two weeks. McBee challenged them to make it six weeks, then a semester, then a year.
And they did it — for 175 days.
"The kids felt awful some days but were determined to do this," McBee said in a story for Monday's Corpus Christi Caller-Times. "One child was in a car accident with his father on a Sunday. We had Monday off, but he came limping in on Tuesday," McBee said.
She said the students learned about dedication and commitment, their grade-point averages increased and she never had to re-teach a lesson to absent students.
McBee said she never had to bribe the students.
"It wasn't like if you do it, you get this," she said. "All they got was recognition, and that was enough for them."
Along the way they road in a holiday parade, had a picnic and went to movies to celebrate their accomplishments. The final celebration was an overnight camping trip at Lake Mathis on May 30.
McBee joked that she was afraid no one would want to be in her class next year.
"I just happened to have a group of kids who had the initiative to come up with this idea and do it," she said. "Every year your group of kids is different. I'd never put pressure on kids or tell them you have to do this.
According to the Texas Administrative Code, a student must be in the classroom for at least two hours to be considered present. School administrators said if a student is in class until 10 a.m., he or she is counted present.