Well, that’s not entirely true. He did miss some time during his year in kindergarten.
“I had to get my tonsils taken out,” said Polite, who will graduate on May 20 from Abbeville High. “But since first grade I haven’t missed a day.”
Through his years at Herod Elementary, J.H. Williams Middle School and, finally, Abbeville High, if school was in session, Polite was in his desk. It’s not something he set out to accomplish, though.
“I didn’t really pay attention to it until my ninth-grade year,” Polite said. “It was routine, just get it over with.”
There had to be days Polite didn’t feel like getting out of bed, right?
“Maybe,” he said, “but I still got up and went to school.”
If nothing else, people do get sick.
“I was always pretty healthy,” Polite said. “That never really affected me.”
Polite’s father, Ricky Polite, is an industrial arts teach at Abbeville. One would think that having a parent as a teacher would help in going to school every day. The younger Polite said that’s not really been the case.
“Not really,” he said, before adding with a laugh, “I ride to school with my dad every day. He said if I’m not up and ready to go, he will leave me.
“I’m always ready on time.”
Ricky Polite said he’s couldn’t be more proud of what his son has accomplished.
“People think I pushed him to go,” the elder Polite said. “That’s not the case. I used to brag about how I didn’t miss a day in eight years. He broke my record. I think a lot of credit goes to his mom, Carolyn (Bessard). She’s a big influence on him.
“We’re so proud of him.”
Students around school are aware of Polite’s track record. He said he receives encouragement from his peers. Except when it came to a day that’s part of senior tradition.
“They tried to get me to miss on senior skip day,” Polite said. “But I didn’t skip.”
Polite didn’t simply show up for school. He’s kept his grades up.
“I have about a 2.8,” he said. “I’m not that great in math.”
He’s also a part of the AHS band. Polite played tuba, euphonium and trombone. Being a part of a larger group did, in fact, play an important role in Polite showing up.
“I was in a leadership position,” said Polite, who served as AHS’ drum major. “I didn’t want them to have to say, oh, the drum major’s not here.
“I tried to lead by example.”
Music will remain a part of Polite’s life. He said he plans to major in that field when moves on to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Will he try to keep the streak intact?
“I haven’t really given that much thought,” he said. “I guess we’ll see when I start in August.”
Polite hasn’t missed a day of school since kindergarten. It’s a badge of honor, something he said he’s proud of. That doesn’t mean he’s not looking forward to being finished. He has an idea of how he will feel on that first Monday he doesn’t have to get up and walk through the front door of Abbeville High School.
“Yes!” he exclaimed with both fists in the air.