W.O. Lance improving its attendance numbers

Published 6:09 pm Friday, March 15, 2019

LANETT — A proactive approach to getting students inside the classroom has paid off for Lanett City Schools.

Lanett City Schools Attendance Coordinator Whittany Nolen said the number of students with perfect attendance is increasing at W.O. Lance Elementary School. In February and March 2018, Nolen said there were 143 students with perfect attendance, and this year for February and March combined, there are 205 students with perfect attendance.

“That is a third of our student body with perfect attendance, and I feel that is something to be excited about,” she said.

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Perfect attendance means those students are not tardy and have not been checked out of school before 11:30 a.m.

Nolen said the school started to work on its attendance numbers when the academic year began by sending letters to parents about the attendance policy and the requirements set forth by the state.

“If your child is not in school, we are not able to help them,” Nolen said.

She said one of the biggest things helping to increase attendance is building relationships with students. She said the students know when they aren’t in class, Nolen is going to know and will ask the student why. If the student is gone for several days, she will call the home and see what is happening and if there is anything she can do to help.

“It is more of a team effort, and we are seeing that the kids aren’t wanting to miss school,” Nolen said.

In December, there was an ice cream celebration for a class that had perfect attendance.

In January, the students who had perfect attendance from August to the end of January participated in a breakfast bash. Nolen said McDonalds and Daylight Donuts donated food. There were also pancakes, eggs, grits and fruit. She said 66 students participated in the breakfast. 

Later this year, there will be a “Poppin’ Good Time” celebration where students with perfect attendance will get popcorn, soda pop and get to watch a movie, Nolen said.

At the end of the year, there will be a big celebration for those who didn’t miss a day all year. Nolen said half of the battle of getting kids inside the classroom walls is letting them know that somebody cares about them.

“What they really want to know is that somebody is paying attention,” she said.

Lanett City Schools Superintendent Phillip Johnson said this is an example of how the schools try to give students within the school district specialized attention.

“It makes life better if you can come to school, and you’re safe, and we can provide you with well-balanced, nutritious meals and then help you learn,” he said. “That breaks the cycle of poverty that being absent can’t help break.”