Two were valedictorians. One was a member of Sultana's Associated Student Body leadership. Another is known for his enthusiasm and positive attitude. And all are safe bets on becoming adults with purpose and direction.


When Lainie Bird, Brittney Fisher, Leonard Lamp and Cody Willman graduated with the Sultana High School class of 2009, they were standouts for numerous reasons. But they had something very special in common: All four never missed a day of school - from kindergarten through high school. And three-quarters of Sultana's perfect attendance quartet were students at Mesa Grande Elementary School.


"At the end of each year I liked to point to the kindergarten kids and tell them they could do something amazing," said Larry Bird, a school district administrator who was the trio's elementary school principal for the first few years. "You can go your entire career without missing a day."


Leonard and Cody heard Bird's message with Lainie attending her father's school in first grade. Meanwhile, a similar message was sinking in when Brittney was at Kingston Elementary.


While his daughter was halfway through elementary school, however, Bird was called to become principal of Ranchero Middle School. So Valerie Turpin took over as Mesa Grande principal and continued to drum in the importance of going to school every day.


Eventually the four became middle school students, and Bird resumed his call for perfect attendance. During a spirited middle school graduation address, he acknowledged their accomplishments.


"We honored those four kids for having perfect attendance," Bird said. "Our admonition was to keep it going. All those kids did do just that."


While determination is the most important component, he believes there is something else that must enter the perfect attendance equation: "You have to have a little fortune."


His daughter, Lainie, a 12-letter, three-sport, varsity athlete, enjoyed "tremendous, great health." But she also had a few close calls.


One year she got sick on a Tuesday night, the day before the Veterans Day Holiday, which allowed her time to rest up. She also was sick on a few weekends and during the summer.


"I think her body just geared up for the right times. We think it would be irresponsible to send a sick child to school."


Going to school everyday also affirmed the quest for excellence. Not surprisingly, his daughter Lainie and Leonard were class valedictorians.


"I made that commitment that my children wouldn't go on any Disneyland trips or anything like that (during school). I think it's teaching that work ethic."


Bird's eldest daughter, who will attend Point Loma University next fall, isn't the only Bird child to pursue attendance perfection. Middle child Cassie, who just finished her freshman year at Sultana, has never missed a day of school, nor has son Wesley, an elementary school student who hasn't missed a day in his six years at Carmel Elementary.


"I haven't had a kid miss a day of school yet," Bird said.