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Mount St. Joseph’s ‘Iron Man’ Kevin Protzman model of consistency, perfect attendance from kindergarten

Kevin Protzman had perfect attendance from kindergarten through high school at St. Mark School and Mount St. Joseph's High School. He played the drums for school plays, the jazz band and the choir and was awarded the Br. Bernardine Ridders, CFX Award for "the senior who has given the most of himself to make Mount Saint Joseph an exceptional school."
Kevin Protzman had perfect attendance from kindergarten through high school at St. Mark School and Mount St. Joseph's High School. He played the drums for school plays, the jazz band and the choir and was awarded the Br. Bernardine Ridders, CFX Award for "the senior who has given the most of himself to make Mount Saint Joseph an exceptional school." (Jeffrey F. Bill)

Kevin Protzman has a laundry list of accomplishments under his belt. Just like Baltimore Orioles legend Cal Ripken, Protzman has an “Iron Man” streak of his own: perfect attendance.

The Mount St. Joseph grad has stretched his perfect attendance streak since kindergarten at St. Mark School in Catonsville. Protzman received awards for his perfect attendance for nine straight years. The only time he missed school was to attend his grandmother’s funeral at Arlington National Cemetery when he was in the fifth grade. His absence was excused by the St. Mark administration.

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Protzman attributes his streak to opportune health — seemingly only getting sick on weekends and summer breaks — as well as the insistence of his mother, Rosaire, that he take to heart her message about consistency. Plus, she “didn’t really give me a reason to not go to school,” he said.

“I think initially I just didn’t really get sick too much, fortunately,” Protzman said. “I got perfect attendance for a few years in a row and I was kind of like, ‘Let’s see how long I can do this.’

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“I think that by the time that I was in the fourth or fifth grade, I just wanted to see how long that I could keep it going, and I got out of the eighth grade with perfect attendance. I wanted to go through high school and see if I could do it all of the way through.”

Not only has Protzman, who is planning to study engineering at the University of South Carolina in the fall, had perfect attendance the past four years at Mount St. Joseph, but he’s never arrived for school late or left early, while balancing a multitude of extracurricular activities.

The activities included becoming an Eagle Scout with St. Mark Troop 456 as an eighth-grader; playing the drums for school plays, the jazz band and the choir; being the drum major for the marching band; being a member of the National Honor Society; taking part in the peer education program; participating in track and field his freshman year; being part of the Xaverian Brothers-sponsored schools retreat, and participating in the Maryland Math League — all while maintaining a 4.82 GPA.

There was one potential blip during his high school career that threatened his impressive trajectory.

He came down with an illness during tech week while playing the drums and then considered what to do. His position as the drum set player was essential to the school’s performance and he didn’t want to miss out.

Luckily for Protzman, it snowed and school was closed for three days. By the time it reopened he felt rejuvenated and enthusiastically took part in the performance.

“That was pretty lucky, I guess,” Protzman said. “Some of the other people weren’t too psyched. The other people who were involved in the play, just because it was rehearsal time ... but on the perfect attendance end of things, it happened to work out pretty well. It was a good show and we pulled everything together.”

There was one other instance, in elementary school, that could have threatened his attendance record.

“I do remember one time in grade school where he got a splinter on the playground and he just stuck it out and said, ‘You know what? I can deal with it, I’m fine,'" recalled Rosaire Protzman. "When I saw it, it was huge.

"I ended up having to take him to the doctor and have it taken out. It was from a telephone pole, but he just stuck it out and said, ‘I don’t need to go home.' He did go to the [school] nurse.”

Seeing her son continually dedicated to his schoolwork and extracurricular activities brings her gratification. Four of her five children have gone on to college after excelling in high school, and Kevin is no exception.

“I’m extremely proud,” Rosaire Protzman stated. “He’s had a drive to excel ever since he was a little kid and that’s continued on all of the way through. I always tried to plan doctor’s appointments, dental appointments and all of those things after school with all of my kids — after school or on Saturday mornings.

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“Some kids would prefer to be pulled out of school to go to the dentist, but he would not have wanted that at all. He would not have wanted to miss school for anything.”

Protzman has a big supporter in his former freshman and sophomore year theology teacher Timothy Breen, who raved about the multifaceted student’s ability to galvanize a classroom. The two often discussed world affairs and life outside of school.

“He’s an excellent student; if we are talking academically it’s what you expect,” Breen said. “He’s the kind of young man that we bring in, but when I think of him in the classroom, I think more about his personality.

"You knew right off of the bat that he’d be participating in the life of the classroom, not just what you were doing that day with the lesson and homework and things like that, but being a good classmate with the other guys and a kid that you can count on in the classroom to participate or bounce things off of.”

In a surprise move, the graduating senior was awarded the Br. Bernardine Ridders, CFX Award on Thursday, the school’s virtual graduation day. The award is given to the senior "who has given the most of himself to make Mount Saint Joseph an exceptional school.”

Mount St. Joseph President George Andrews commended Protzman for being “very involved in every aspect of the school — certainly on the spiritual side of things, involved in service and giving back to the school and taking care of others."

“He is a senior that spent a lot of time giving back to the school community with service, and you’ve got to have high grades as well,” Andrews added about the award.

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