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When it comes to attendance, soon-to-be Dulaney High grad is perfect

In 13 years, Daniel Longest has never missed a day of school.

The 17-year-old senior is set to graduate from Dulaney High School on May 31 after more than 2,300 days of attendance at Baltimore County Public Schools, according to his mother, Mary Longest.

The school community recognizes Daniel's feat, Dulaney principal Sam Wynkoop said.

"His will is strong to be here and be involved, but what may go unnoticed is realizing how impressive that is," Wynkoop said of Daniel's accomplishment, adding that even adults take sick days.

A Baltimore County Public Schools spokesman said the district does not track perfect attendance. Wynkoop, however, said Daniel is a staple in Dulaney's hallways.

Daniel's quest to graduate with perfect attendance began at the end of his eighth grade year, when Ridgely Middle School recognized the Timonium teen for his regular presence at an end-of-the-year ceremony.

School attendance had always been something that his parents required, Daniel said, but getting recognized by the middle school felt like reaching a milestone.

"I thought, 'This wasn't this hard. I might as well keep going,' " Daniel said.

In high school, his quest to never miss a day became tougher to stick with. He persisted through a family member's illness and a personal battle with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, but was lucky enough to avoid getting too sick during the school year, he said.

"I'm kind of proud he goes to school every day," Mary Longest said. "Quite honestly, if I was faced with all of those things I probably wouldn't have wanted to go."

Daniel credits his involvement in such school activities as being a member of the National Honor Society and his participation in theatre productions with helping to keep alive his desire to show up every day.

National Honor Society membership at Dulaney is open to students who have a cumulative GPA of 3.3 or greater, provide service through the school and community and show strong character and leadership. Daniel has a 3.5 unweighted GPA.

'A way of being happy'

He also credits the engaging teachers he's had at Dulaney for making it easier to persist in his goal, especially Latin teacher Dawn Mitchell, whose personable teaching style and funny quirks made learning fun, he said.

Six years of Latin class helped him tease out the additional meanings behind Italian words, phrases and stories, he said, adding that it also helped the stories about Roman mythology he learned "come to life."

Last summer, Daniel joined Mitchell on a school trip to Rome with the school system's language program.

"He's the kind of kid you want to have around," Mitchell said of Daniel. "Even at the end of the school year he has a way of being happy and offering to help."

Daniel also is the voice behind the high school's morning announcements, Dulaney News Roar Networks.

He plans to continue along that path at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he will major in broadcast journalism, he said, a discipline he calls a more practical choice for a self-described theatre and journalism kid.

"I always wanted to be a musician but I wanted to do something a little more practical," said Daniel, who plays guitar, piano, ukulele and bass guitar. "My friends tell me I have an announcer voice, so I thought maybe I could be like the [National Public Radio] guy."

In the meantime, Daniel plans for the summer to continue his volunteer work at Blakehurst Retirement Community, in Towson, where he began volunteering in January 2016 by playing music for the seniors in the assisted living facility. He can be found most Thursday afternoons at Blakehurst calling Bingo and offering nail care to the residents, activities he said he enjoys because he gets to hear the senior's stories.

He will also attend the National Junior Classical League's annual Latin convention at Bloomington University, in Indiana, for the second time before getting ready to move-in to his freshman dorm at Maryland on August 24.

He hopes to continue his attendance streak in college, he said.

"We're going to be paying a lot of money, so I plan on doing as well as I can in college," Daniel said. "I definitely want to get the most I can out of college."

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