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Vickroy: ‘Perfect Paige’ keeps on showing up

Paige Stulginskas senior Stagg High School has had perfect attendance since preschool. | DonnVickroy~Sun-Times Media

Paige Stulginskas, a senior at Stagg High School, has had perfect attendance since preschool. | Donna Vickroy~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 20, 2013 6:21AM



Neither sickness nor vacation nor the temptation to simply play hooky can stay this courageous student from the swift completion of her appointed rounds.

It was in the fifth grade when Paige Stulginskis realized that she was on a perfect track. Her mom had mentioned that she had perfect attendance since preschool.

“So I decided to see if I could keep it going,” said Paige, a senior at Stagg High School who’s closing in on her goal.

She has not missed a day of school in about 14 years. No fevers. No earaches. No stomach issues.

“I got sick, but it was always on Christmas break or the weekend,” she said.

Sure, there were times when the 17-year-old, who lives in Hickory Hills with her mom and stepfather, felt like staying home, and her mom gave her the thumbs-up to do so.

“But I was always afraid of missing something, so I went,” she said.

She did come close to missing school once. In eighth grade, she came down with strep throat. It was over a weekend, but her mom called the school on Monday to say that Paige wouldn’t be in attendance.

Paige said she had the antibiotics in her system for more than 24 hours so she knew she wasn’t contagious, but sometimes, even with meds, you still feel kind of lousy.

Nevertheless, she said, “I convinced my dad to take me to school anyway.”

Paige, a twin, said she doesn’t do anything special to keep herself healthy, but friends and family often joke that maybe she got the lion’s share of nutrients in the womb.

“My sister Tori is sick a lot,” she said.

Paige credits her dad with instilling her strong work ethic. Sadly, Glen Stulginskis died unexpectedly this summer from a heart aneurysm.

Paige says she knows he was proud of her accomplishment.

“He was always pushing me to keep going,” she said.

Paige said her most challenging year of school was eighth grade. By contrast, freshman year of high school was a breeze.

In her free time, Paige can be found hanging out at the Palos Hills Riding Stables, where she owns three American Saddlebred horses — Rio, Cosmo and Nando. She rides both western and English styles.

She’s hoping to attend Western Illinois University next fall to study criminal justice and forensics.

“I love NCIS and CSI,” she said, adding that she has attended summer camps on forensics, one at Moraine Valley Community College and another at Augustana College.

Shepard students advance with biodiesel project

Shepard High School science students made their first batch of biodiesel fuel last week in the mini-refinery they had been constructing at the Crestwood public works building since September.

“We installed solar panels on the roof and are now 100 percent solar powered,” teacher Brian Sievers said.

The eco-friendly fuel, made from used cooking oil, will be used to fuel diesel trucks, such as snowplows, for Crestwood.

Since our story ran a few weeks ago, Sievers said he has heard from Gov. Pat Quinn’s office. Quinn is interested in having a look.

And this past weekend, John Byrne, superintendent of Community High School District 218, visited the students while they were working on the project. The school district includes Shepard and has donated money for the project.

National Geographic Explorers of the Year

Adventure Educators Amy and Dave Freeman were recently named National Geographic’s Adventurers of the Year for 2014. They are among 10 adventurers eligible to receive the People’s Choice award, based on public voting.

On Earth Day 2010, the Minnesota couple, who bring their Wilderness Classroom into schools across the country, including Wagoner School in Sauk Village, embarked on an ambitious 11,000-mile journey across North America.

Roughly 85,000 children in elementary and middle schools tracked their progress as they paddled, hiked and dog-sledded up the Inside Passage, across the Northwest Territories, through the Great Lakes and down the East Coast of the United States. On April 4, 2013, they paddled into Key West, Fla. Mission accomplished.

“We’re trying to get kids interested in outdoor activities,” Dave Freeman said. “We want to get them exploring, welcome them back to nature.”

To vote for Amy and Dave Freeman, visit adventure.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/adventurers-of-the-year/2014/vote/.

Voting is open until Jan. 31, 2014. Winners will be announced in February 2014.

Richards teacher Erin Lara moves on

We had planned to follow first-year Spanish teacher Erin Lara throughout the school year to document the joys and challenges of being a new teacher. But last month, Lara left her position at Richards High School in Oak Lawn for another job.

“I applied for a translating/interpreting job a while back and did not know that it was going to come through,” Lara said. “It has, and now I don’t feel that I can pass up the opportunity.

“What I can say about teaching is that it is very difficult, especially the first year. But there are so many resources and people available to help that it is manageable. Everyone should know that I love my students and the staff, and I enjoyed my time with them.”



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