GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas– September is Attendance Awareness Month, a time for students to understand the importance of being in school and regularly coming to class.

The month is part of a campaign launched by the nonprofit Attendance Works, which is dedicated to bringing awareness to attendance and the effects of chronic absenteeism. The United States Department of Education qualifies chronic absenteeism as missing 15 or more days in a given school year. 

A national data report from ED showed that nearly eight million K-12 students across the United States were chronically absent during the 2015-16 school year, with more recent data suggesting the number is even higher. 

At ILTexas, part of its mission is for students to show up on time and be ready for school, which is something ILTexas Grand Prairie K-8 Principal Adrian Apodaca actively encourages.

“There's nothing more important than a child's education,” he said. “Every minute that the student is in class is an opportunity for them to learn something new, and that's why we're here to make sure that our students are successful.”

For Kelly Hull, a 5th grade English teacher at ILTexas Grand Prairie K-8, students showing up to class has its benefits. 

“Our students that show up regularly come to school every day, we noticed a huge jump, especially with their growth, which is what we're all about,” she said. “We want to make sure our students are growing, and they can't do that if they're not at school."

And while showing up to class is one thing, for Apodaca, there’s another important part of education to remember.

“Learning has to be fun,” he said. “We have some students who don't want to go home early, or they can't wait to come see one of their favorite teachers or come see their friends, and that just makes everybody and everything much better.”

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