Rockdale County Public Schools Superintendent Samuel King congratulates Heritage High School graduate Mark "Fred" Umland with a certificate for achieving 13 years of perfect attendance
CONYERS -- Three Rockdale County graduates are celebrating this summer after 13 years of dedication.
Rockdale County Public Schools recognized three 2012 graduates -- Mark "Fred" Umland from Heritage High School and Melissa Reed and Vikita Valle, from Salem High School -- who each achieved 13 years of perfect attendance. The students were recognized at graduation ceremonies and with a special certificate from RCPS Superintendent Samuel King.
Mark "Fred" Umland, Heritage High School
Not only did Umland have perfect attendance for 13 years of school, but he also was never late for school since the third grade when tardies began counting against attendance, according to RCPS.
He was dedicated to this goal but had to sacrifice many things, including a trip to London, to keep on track. He says that after a while it just became a habit to be at school every day.
"I would get sick on weekends and holidays," he said. "I had chicken pox one spring break and strep throat on Christmas, but it always seemed to just work out that way."
Umland's family credits his dedication as part of his high academic achievements.
He earned the Superintendent's Academic Award for being in the Top 10 in his class each year throughout high school, and he graduated third in his class with a 4.429 grade point average and was recognized as a summa cum laude graduate, Honor Student and Board Scholar.
Last year, he was one of 15 students in the state to be invited and to participate in the Governor's Honors Program, where he studied physics.
He also earned a letter for varsity cross country and varsity baseball while in high school.
Umland is interested in engineering and plans to continue his education at the University of Virginia in the fall.
Melissa Reed, Salem High School
Reed set out to earn 13 years of perfect attendance after starting school at age 4.
She said it was more difficult to make up missed work than miss school, so she just always went to school.
"It's harder to make it up," she said. "I would rather just go to school, learn the material and get it done the first time."
Attending school every day also aided her academic career.
She earned the Superintendent's Academic Award this year for being in the Top 10 of her class, as well as the Outstanding AP Biology and AP Environmental Science Student and the University of Georgia Certificate of Merit, and she is a member of the National Honor Society.
Reed graduated fourth in her class with a 4.076 GPA and was recognized as a summa cum laude graduate, Honor Student, and Board Scholar. Melissa will be pursuing biology and Spanish at the University of Georgia and aims to become a veterinarian.
Reed also was color guard Rookie of the Year, color guard Mentor of the Year and earned the Girl Scout Silver Award and a letter for the marching band/color guard. She served as the varsity boys soccer team manager and was active in the Winter Guard, Beta Club, Student Government, Foreign Language Club, Spanish Honor Society, Science Club, SADD and was invited and participated in the American Legion Auxiliary's Georgia Girls State.
Valle said it wasn't difficult to achieve 13 years of perfect attendance.
"I just went to school every day," she said.
During high school, she participated in Beta Club, Foreign Language Club and Healthcare Students of America, while completing a health care and law career pathway at the Rockdale Career Academy. She is a member of the National Honor Society for High School Scholars and was invited and participated in the American Legion Auxiliary's Georgia Girls State.
She graduated with a 3.735 GPA and was recognized as a magna cum laude graduate and Honor Student.
Valle has been an apprentice at a local law firm and aspires to earn a law degree. She will begin working on that goal at the University of West Georgia in the fall.
Also while in high school, she earned a letter in marching band and enjoys playing tennis.