Except, perhaps, for the “Yo” in the last 13 years, Megan Gaitan — a scholar and an extrovert — has responded to that question than 2,300 times.
She is the 18-year-old daughter of Hector and Susie Gaitan of Beeville.
Her mother is the simulation coordinator for the Coastal Bend College nursing classes; her father is a bulldozer operator.
Megan is being graduated from A.C. Jones High School this year with a perfect attendance record: Pre-K to senior year.
“It seems that every time she had some childhood disease, it was either during the summer or when school was closed,” says Susie, her mother.”
“She had a cough occasionally,” she remembers, “but not enough to keep her home.”
Her parents even scheduled trips to the dentist on a Saturday.
Her goal of aiming for a perfect attendance record started early in her school career.
“At the end of each six weeks, we would get a necklace with a perfect attendance medal,” Megan explains. “At the beginning of each school year, I would tell myself, ‘Aw, I’ll do the next one.”
While many teachers admire her for her effort, some of her friends have been envious.
“I’ve been teased a lot,” Megan says. “Some people have threatened to steal my car keys so I couldn’t get to school,” she laughs.
She was so dedicated to her goal she even refused to participate in the high school’s annual senior skip day.
Megan was one of 2,300 high-achieving students in BISD allowed to end their school year early.
When A.C. Jones Principal Jaime Rodriguez called Megan into his office to present her attendance award —along with an iPod — he warned that she still had two weeks to attend each class. “Now, don’t be a rebel,” he said.
If anything, Megan is the antithesis of the word. Her resume could be a template for achievement.
She is the senior class president, head cheerleader, a member of the student council, the Key Club, the Honor Society, the school’s FCCLA (Family Career and Community Leaders of America) chapter, Bee County 4-H Council, reading club, Business Professionals of America chapter and school choir.
Not surprisingly, the faculty has praised her leadership. She also has received a Who’s Who award and she carries a trophy — not unlike an Oscar — for her acting in the high school’s theater club productions.
Her last curtain call was for performing in D.W. Gregory’s “Radium Girls” — the story of the plight of women who contracted radium poisoning while painting watch faces with radium for the military in the early 1920s.
“I think she’s awesome. She tries everything,” her mother says.
“Sometimes I spread myself too thin,” Megan admits.
In her copious spare time, she has won a UIL poetry award for reading Shell Silverstein’s “The Nap Taker.”
“I did not take that nap,” I cried,
“I give my solemn vow,
And if I took it by mistake
I do not have it now.”
“Oh fiddle-fudge,” cried out the judge,
“Your record looks quite sour.
Last night I see you stole a kiss,
Last week you took a shower,
You beat your eggs, you’ve whipped your cream,
At work you punched the clock,
You’ve even killed an hour or two,
We’ve heard you darn your socks,
We know you shot a basketball,
You’ve stolen second base,
And we can see you’re guilty
From the sleep that’s on your face.”
“It’s written for children,” Megan says, “but I’m just a kid at heart.”
With 20 dual credit hours at Coastal Bend College, Megan says she plans to attend the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio this fall, majoring in communications.
Her current project is researching and applying for scholarships.
Her business sense is sharp, too. When Rodriguez gave her that iPod for perfect attendance, she asked for the receipt.
“I plan to return it and apply the money to a laptop or an iPhone.
“My mom has always said for me to excel at what you do best, and perfect it,” Megan says.
Armed with her CBC dual credit classes, she says she plans “to get a master’s degree in four years.
Her career goal is to become a television news anchor.
That goal will be augmented by her receiving a first place award in interviewing skills from the Business Professionals of America.
One activity coming to an end, after a dozen years, is cheerleading.
“I started with the Pop Warner program in kindergarten,” she says. But this year will be her last. She’s abandoning it because, at the college level, the sport demands a lot of gymnastic tumbling.
“I’m not a tumbler.”
How about perfect attendance at UIW?
“Um,” she replies, pausing to gather her thoughts. “If I miss any classes, it won’t be anything drastic. I’ll always feel that I have to be there.”
And like most high school seniors planning for college, she is looking forward to being away from home.
“I don’t know how my mother is going to handle it,” she says.
Bill Clough is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 122, or at beepic@mySouTex.com.