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He Never Played Hooky From School

By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 20, 2001 – Military family member Eric Mize performed what some parents and educators consider a phenomenal feat: He never missed a day of school from kindergarten through the 12th grade -- while attending eight schools on four continents.

His perfect attendance record garnered recognition from the Military Child Education Coalition and praise from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Henry H. Shelton during the coalition's third annual conference recently in Palm Harbor, Fla.

"Eric is a great example of the outstanding young men and women that are being produced in our school systems," the chairman said. Thunderous applause erupted.

Some 224 DoD schools support 110,000 students in 14 foreign countries, seven states, Guam and Puerto Rico. Another 600,000 military family members attend schools in more than 600 civilian school districts near stateside military bases.

Mize's elementary and middle school years were spent in central Georgia. He then went to Africa and attended Cairo American College in Egypt. From there, he attended Robert D. Degren High School in Japan and finally Ramstein American High School in Germany, where he graduated in 2000 with a 3.3 grade-point average.

"Going to school in different countries was a big change because from 'K' through the eighth grade I'd only gone to school in Georgia. It was a big culture shock when I went to Egypt," said the liberal arts freshman, who is attending Mercer University in Macon, Ga. "You slowly get used to it, But going to another country is always a big change."

He said the fun part of attending school overseas is learning different cultures and bits and pieces of different languages.

"I like the socializing part of school," Mize said. "The education is good, but I like friends, too."

The 18-year-old said logged up a perfect attendance record because "I got sick on the weekends and on Christmas breaks. This past year, on a Sunday, I had a 101-degree temperature, but on Monday morning it was 98.6. It's just luck."

Even though he was tempted to play hooky several times, he decided to go to class. "One of my friends wanted me to skip during the last period, but I didn't do it," said Mize, who played football and ran track in high school. "I was halfway to a perfect record in the sixth grade, so I figured I might as well take the long haul and go for it."

Mize grew up with his mother, Kathy Rowlands, and stepfather, and Air Force Lt. Col. John Rowlands, of Ramstein Air Base, Germany. His father, Charles Mize, and stepmother, Natalie, live in Macon.

His brother, Jason, 20, is also at Mercer, working on a double major of political science and Christianity. He missed school one time in the second grade.

"We have good immune systems," Eric Mize quipped.

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Related Articles:
AFPS News Article: Sheltons Praise Military Child Education Coalition
AFPS News Article: General Says Education Coalition Makes His Job Easier

Click photo for screen-resolution imageFormer DoD Dependent Schools student Eric Mize is congratulated for a perfect 13-year school attendance record by Army Gen. Henry H. Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Mize was in the spotlight at the third annual Military Child Education Coalition conference in Palm Harbor, Fla., July 13, 2001. Photo by Rudi Williams.   
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