Stephanie Almeida awarded Perfect Attendance for 13 consecutive years.
By Maria Alejandra Pulgar.
Stephanie Almeida is a senior at Ronald Reagan/Doral Senior High School and since kindergarten she has not missed a single day of school. She is a role model for the whole community, as she is the first Doral student to achieve this award for 13 consecutive years. Born and raised in Doral, her dad Jay Almeida says “She has pure Doral DNA”, she attended John I. Smith Elementary and Doral Middle School and all her principals have always commended her commitment to always be in school and on time in order not to miss any opportunity for learning, one of the things she loves to do most in life.
From Brazilian origin, Stephanie is fluent in English, Spanish and Portuguese and wants to pursue a major in Mass Communications and Marketing production in FIU in the fall.
The Almeidas are a close, affectionate family that enjoys mutual company, conversations, trips and celebrating life together. Her parents Mara and Jay, with the support of Grandma Gracie from Canada, have done a remarkable job raising both Stephanie and her sister Jessica in an environment where knowledge is treasured and commitments are honored. For them, getting the girls to school every day and on time is part of their commitment as parents, it is something that has to be done right in order for the children to receive good education and to seize all opportunities that life has to offer. They have been living in Doral since 1990 and love having seen their daughters grow along with the city. “Doral is family oriented, very well preserved, very green and beautiful. All schools are good with great discipline. It is the perfect place to raise a family.”
For Stephanie’s parents their support was the key for achieving the accomplishment of not missing a single day of school. “They are kids, they need a role model to find their way in life. You have to guide them, not impose them, so they become good people” says her mother Mara. Mr. Almeida credits their success on four aspects that have to be taken care in order to get to school every day on time. First of all it is Health; “make them be active, do plenty of exercise, feed them well and give them vitamins so their bodies don’t get sick”. Second, getting plenty of rest and going to bed early “so their bodies recover and develop resistance”. Then, motivate them to go to school, learn and excel and, last but not least, wake up together with them “to show them you care, to be role models and also to spend that early part of the day with them.”
“We did not look forward to receive the Perfect Attendance award. It just did happen. They like going to school, they enjoy learning. If it is important to them it is important to us. We are a family and we do everything together. Being a family is different than just merely having kids. It is a mission, a commitment. Family is first. Their mission becomes our mission since they were born. We are here to raise them the best we can” says Mr. Almeida. “At school they have activities and friends, they love going there. Parents need to allow kids to be kids, enjoy their childhood, study. They need activities to enjoy their childhood. To have fun, live those experiences; do the right things at the right time. Their work is to go to school, on time, and do their homework.” And Stephanie adds “There is always a way. There are no excuses to miss school or to be there late if you want to do it. You have to wake up early so you can be at school on time, with extra time to enjoy yourself, you can even have free breakfast at school.”
Stephanie just loves learning. She likes to read and write, but above all she loves math and science “I love school in general but I love learning something new every day. It is awesome. History teaches you about life, Reading about how to express yourself. Math is not only numbers; it is like a therapeutic way, it teaches you how to figure out something that is in a different language for you. I love Writing, expressing in words my feelings, as I also express by dancing”. In dance lessons since she was 2 years old, she has been part for 4 years and currently is the captain of the Reagan Sensations Dance team and commends Ms. Maceppa their coach for her dedication and commitment to the team “she is a great role model for us”.
About her parents commitment to help her achieve the Perfect Attendance Stephanie says “from point zero my parents have been there for my sister and me. They always explain us the reasons for everything. If we go to school, we learn, we achieve great things. Why not doing it? They taught us slowly but thoroughly how to make good choices, to learn what is right or wrong. They guide us and are always there for us.” All indicates that Jessica, her younger sister is on the path to achieve Perfect Attendance for 14 years when she graduates in 2014, because so far she has not missed a day of school either since Pre-Kindergarten.
Dr. Jacques Bentolilla, principal of Ronald Reagan/Doral Senior High expressed his recognition to the Almeida family: “We are very proud of Stephanie and her accomplishment. School attendance is very important as you cannot learn when you are not here. Her, and her parents, commitment to education should be commended. This type of commitment will allow Stephanie to succeed in anything she puts her mind to.”
For Stephanie, Reagan Senior has been an incredible place to learn and grow. For her “High School teaches you about life. Classes are practice on how you are going to do in life, how you will approach difficulties and overcome them. You put all your experiences, wrap them all together and that is the knowledge you will be carrying on. I am ready, I am not afraid of college. I learn on every step how to stand changes, and it is fine. It is the attitude what would propel you forward”.
She is on the right track. Graduation day on June 6th, besides being a very emotional day for her family, is going to be the gateway to the next part of the great journey into learning that Stephanie has been pursuing since that day, 13 years ago, when she first started kindergarten.
On May 9th Stephanie will receive the City of Doral Perfect Attendance Award and a proclamation from the City of Miami, declaring that day “Stephanie Almeida’s Day”. At the beginning of June she will also receive recognition in Tallahassee from the State. She will receive all that for doing her work well done: Being in school every day, on time, all 2340 days of school since Kindergarten.