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Queens teen hasn't skipped school from kindergarten to HS graduationFor 13 years, Alanna McCauley has risen at the crack of dawn, battled inclement weather, warded off sickness and shown up at school on time every single day from kindergarten through 12th grade.
"I can't believe all these years I haven't missed a day of school," McCauley, aka Little Miss Perfect, said Tuesday at her home in Queens. "It is kind of weird, but I guess it's a big accomplishment."
Now she is ready for the ultimate day off - her graduation. But even without a diploma in hand, McCauley is clear on one major life lesson: The importance of just showing up.
"It wasn't really planned," said the soft-spoken honors student, who lives in Floral Park.
"It was just that I was never really sick, and there wasn't really any point to being home if I wasn't sick."
In the sixth grade, her mother, Carol Nicolini-McCauley, noticed her perfect record and started keeping track.
"It became like this sick little joke" within the family, Nicolini-McCauley said. "'Think she's going to maybe do this?' And she did."
Nicolini-McCauley, who drove her three daughters to private school in Long Island each day, remembers skidding across Jericho Turnpike during a blizzard.
She also recalled dropping a bereaved McCauley at school in 2004, as the rest of the family went to a relative's funeral.
Somehow, even as strep throat and stomach viruses hit the household, "she was always left standing," her mom said.
An administrator at St. Mary's High School in Manhasset, where the teen goes to school, said he wished her attitude would rub off on classmates.
"This is a breath of fresh air," said Vincent Gshlecht, the school's guidance director, who called the feat "amazing."
"A lot of students for a hangnail seem to stay out of school, and she came in and out."
Over the years he has heard lame excuses for skipping school, including even some nonexcuses.
"I've had kids who say they just didn't want to go, or parents say they just couldn't get them up. They don't even try to hide it," he said.
But not Little Miss Perfect.