PASO ROBLES — School districts pass out senior awards for academics, sports and the arts, but one determined Paso Robles High School graduating senior achieved an accomplishment that may not have earned him a medal, but certainly won him the respect of his family. The feat was of his own making — a goal he set for himself back when he was 8 years old. Chase Diedrich, 17, has never missed a day of school since he first began in kindergarten. With the twists and turns life threw at him, accumulating 13 years of public education, Diedrich showed up at school... every… single… day… no matter what.
“I never even knew about perfect attendance until third grade when my mom told me I had never missed a day and since then, I’ve always valued having the record,” Diedrich said.
John Rucker, PRHS Digital Media teacher and SkillsUSA Advisor, said Diedrich excelled in his digital multimedia classes all four years of high school, taking on leadership roles to make sure tasks were completed. He helped organize the high school annual film festival for three years. “Every year requires dozens of hours of planning, preparation, and video compiling,” Rucker said. “As Chase graduates this year, I will be losing a core leader of the PRHS AV program, but I am happy to give him my accolades and wish him all the best.”
Diedrich participated in SkillsUSA all four years of high school as well, and has won at the local, regional levels and State competitions.
Rucker said, “Evident by his amazing attendance record, Chase is dependable, but he is also loyal. He delivers when he says he will, and anyone who spends time around adolescents knows that is high praise. Any employer would be lucky to hire someone with his dedication and great attendance.”
Diedrich’s Anatomy and Physiology/Marine Biology teacher Jon-Paul Ewing said, “Chase is reliable and has fostered a work ethic that will carry him far in life.” Ewing added, “I’m sure his cat dissection partner really appreciated his perfect attendance.”
Diedrich’s mother, Melissa Diedrich, a TLC Education Specialist at PRHS, said the pursuit of perfect attendance began when she and her son attended an end-of-the-year teacher conference at the conclusion of his third grade year.
Melissa Diedrich said after being presented with many nice compliments about Chase’s respectful nature, academic aptitude and dry, but quirky sense of humor, paired with several similarly fashioned art projects collected through the year, his teacher placed his cumulative folder on the table and asked if she noticed anything different or special about it. At the time she didn’t see anything out-of-the ordinary.
“He and I both chuckled a bit as he urged me to look closer,” she said. Then both Chase and Melissa Diedrich then became aware of the attendance column. He had not missed a single day since kindergarten. His teacher and mother shared in the excitement, watching Diedrich’s face light up when he heard from his teacher how rare it was to see several years of perfect attendance. When Chase returned home, he shared the big news with his ‘Papa.’
“I have worked in education since 1996 and am completely aware of the constant fight districts and educators have in getting kids to school,” Melissa Diedrich said. She had played out all the typical scenarios in her head that should have justified a missed day: colds, flu, broken bones, family emergencies — “I was truly shocked looking at the evidence of four years of no missed days.”
After that elementary school conference, Chase set a goal that carried through the next nine years. He made the personal choice to attend school in lieu of family events — barbecues, parties, holidays and birthdays, trips and vacations.
“He has flat out refused to leave on a Friday, forcing us to reschedule our travel plan and/or opted out of going all together in order to be at school,” his mother said.
Of course school sanctioned events were allowed. Diedrich participated in four years of PRHS Varsity Tennis, Skills USA for multiple categories of Video Production, and on-campus Video Production, including PRHS Film Fest and daily video announcements, as well as filming of various school athletic events and activities (assemblies, commencement ceremonies, Special Olympics).
Diedrich’s mother said her son has pushed through many “downs” to meet his goal of perfect attendance. She said her son is just a fantastic kid, “With the events of life that have occurred within the 13 years of his public education career, testing both Chase and our family — three school districts attended (PBVSD, NSD and PRJUSD),including a move from Bakersfield to Paso Robles during his eighth grade year, the diagnosis, care of, and death of his Papa and miscellaneous other impacting events — Chase has stayed true to the commitment made as an 8-year-old.”
After graduation, Diedrich will be going to Cuesta College. “I’m still debating whether I want to go to a University or maybe go straight into my career,” he said, “Hopefully, that career will be in the film industry.”