- Associated Press - Saturday, January 2, 2016

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) - Kortney Anderson wasn’t expecting a visit from her school counselor at home recently.

The Roosevelt Elementary School fifth-grader slept in on her first day of winter break, although she saw other students from the school were posting on Facebook about receiving yard signs for having perfect attendance.

Kortney was one of 38 students at the school to hit “perfectly punctual perfect attendance,” said counselor Rachel Horton, who personally delivered yard signs reading “It’s Cool to be in School” to celebrate the student’s first trimester perfect attendance streak, which she’s continued so far during the school’s second trimester.

“She’s not ready yet!” yelled Kelsie Anderson, Kortney’s sister and a seventh-grader at Wilson Middle School, who watched from the door once Kortney appeared to be greeted by Horton along with members of the news media.

Horton, who admitted she doesn’t have perfect attendance herself, joked that Kortney had earned the right to sleep in after arriving early to school each morning in advance of the 8:45 a.m. tardy bell and staying through 3:35 p.m., with her mother Kim Anderson not scheduling any appointments during the school day or otherwise pulling her out of class early.

The Daily Nonpareil reports (https://bit.ly/1IBxJcS ) Roosevelt’s parent involvement team decided to deliver yard signs as something different to recognize the importance of school attendance. The signs are being delivered through Christmas Eve, Horton said, and they replace awarding a certificate during a school assembly.

“Engagement can be feeling connected to the school in whatever place they feel most comfortable,” she said. “It just carries on with them through middle school, high school and just increases the likelihood of graduation.”

Horton began her deliveries along Avenue L at the home of second-grader Jayden Campbell, being greeted by two dogs in the yard of a home abutting the Gale Wickersham Athletic Complex and the Wilson campus.

Jayden said it’s easy to get to school on time, but his favorite part of the school day is still recess. His mother, Tammy Harris, said the yard signs were an amazing way to promote the importance of attendance.

“It makes the kids like going to school,” she said.

As she returned to her vehicle, Jayden called, “Bye, Ms. Horton!”

Diane Ostrowski, the chief communications officer for the Council Bluffs Community School District, said 971 students across Council Bluffs schools - that’s 694 elementary students, 152 middle school and 125 high school - had perfect attendance in the first trimester. Horton said attendance at Roosevelt hovers around 97 percent daily.

“When you’re up at 97, it’s hard to make many gains,” she said, adding the focus on students having no tardies came from a large number of latecomers in the past year.

At the Anderson residence along North 20th Street, Kortney said she was preparing for a Christmas party with her friends. She said she was proud of her new sign, and her sister Kelsie said it was a cool recognition for her sibling. Kortney said she planned to tell her friends about the visit from Horton.

“I’m going to tell them that they should try to get one, too,” Kortney said.

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Information from: The Daily Nonpareil, https://www.nonpareilonline.com

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