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Tardiness takes a toll at high school

Being late to a class earns a student at Sunnyside High School a 10-minute lunchtime detention.

If the student is tardy frequently, it triggers after-school detention.

Eventually a student who is often late to class will be moved into TDG, Teenage Development Group, which is a lunchtime class for students with bad attendance.

In a discussion in Josh Eidson's first period class at the high school, students pondered the reasons their classmates arrive late to school, which are as varied as the students themselves.

The walk to school is cold, or they woke up late. They missed the bus or don't want to go to their first class. They haven't got their homework done. They don't have a ride or their parents are running late. Their parents are working, so no one is there to make the students get going in the morning.

Whatever the reasons, the impact is serious on the students and their classmates.

Several of Eidson's students made the connection between performance in school and arriving on time. Students who arrive late won't earn the credits they need to graduate. They won't do as well on tests, possibly missing out on opportunities to go to college.

Late arrivals also disrupt classes, making it more difficult for their fellow students to get through the day's material. The disruptions add up, meaning tardy students have a negative effect on the entire school.

"It's like the broken window theory," said Principal Ryan Maxwell. "It may seem like a small problem, but when it's 200 kids arriving late each day, teachers are re-teaching the same material, students get behind and eventually they start failing classes."

Eidson's class, made up of freshmen who are making an effort to perform better at school along with some mentors from other grades, also discussed what motivates students who consistently arrive to school on time.

For one student it is the support of her family and friends, who insist she make the effort and get to school. Another student cited a desire to make it to college, unlike her parents, and in the process set an example for her younger sister.

All agreed that having support of family was important, although some balked at the idea brought up of teachers visiting their parents to discuss the issue with them.

Outside the school, 25 minutes after first period has started, a student is asked why she arrived late.

"I just couldn't get a ride," she said as she rushes into the building.

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