IT'S a case of all being in it together for Carrigaline sisters Jodi, Millie and Holly Fitzgerald, who between them have a total of 32 years (5,720 school days) unbroken attendance at school.
The three girls were among 81 students from 28 Cork primary and secondary schools gathered in City Hall on Wednesday to receive awards from the Lord Mayor for their exemplary attendance.
Millie said having her two sisters helped when it came to the trickiest part of the day - getting up in the morning.
“Having the three of us together definitely makes it easier, because once we are all up we just go together,” she said. “It hasn’t been difficult. We are so used to it now, it’s easy to just get up every morning and go in.” 16-year-old Jodi is the eldest and was awarded for 12 years unbroken attendance but she laughed at the suggestion that her good example had helped her younger sisters.
“I don’t know, I think it is my parents, they are the ones who get us up every morning!” The three, who all attend Mount Mercy College, agreed being happy in school makes it much easier to keep their perfect attendance record, a view shared by Orla Brigid Barry.
She was one of five Cork students who were commended for attending 14 years of school without missing a day.
“The school made it is easy for me because it was a place I loved to go. Great teachers, great staff both in primary and secondary school. I absolutely loved going.” Adam O’Driscoll also achieved 14 years unbroken attendance and credited his Nagle Community College classmates for making school so enjoyable.
“My classmates made it a fun place to go, instead of days dragging by, they flew.” He had his eyes firmly on the record in his final year.
“I was conscious of the record. There were some days I might have felt like I could have missed a day but the 14 years meant so much to me and my family I keep going. It is a great achievement and great to put on your CV.
“My parents are delighted and I have a niece so I hope she carries on the tradition.” Congratulating the students, Lord Mayor Tony Fitzgerald said “Cork city is proud of you all and I applaud your efforts. It is a remarkable achievement and is not simply down to good health. It is only possible in a school environment where young people feel secure and fulfilled and where there is a strong foundation of support and encouragement from the family.
“I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate the other people in your lives who made your perfect attendance possible – your schools and your families.” Another pupil with the 14-year record, Dean Hodge, also credited his parents for his achievement.
“I think the home environment was key. If there is an environment where you are able to skip school then you will, if it’s not there, then you don’t. My parents encouraged me, not in a bad way, but it just felt like that was what I should do.” Speaking at the ceremony, Dan O’ Shea, Regional Manager, Tusla Educational Welfare Service, said “Research has shown again and again that regular school attendance lays the foundation for good relationships and a successful life at work. Children who attend school regularly are more likely to stay in school and therefore to be emotionally, financially and socially secure in later life.”