I also mentioned that no doubt Jason Thomassen of West High School was not alone in achieving the perfect attendance record on graduation.
And true to my prediction, James and Lucretia King were proud to report that their son, Austin King, also a West High graduate, had perfect K-12 attendance.
Austin attended Poet Christian School through the eighth grade without a missed day, and then entered the Space and Engineering Academy at West for four years, also with perfect attendance.
After graduating last Saturday with honors as a CSF Sealbearer and life member, Austin plans to attend San Jose State University to pursue a degree in electrical engineering.
Not many students strive for, or achieve, perfect attendance — I know I didn’t, many years ago — but getting to class regularly with a minimum of absences is one prerequisite for success in school.
Students who are habitually absent often fall behind, have a difficult time catching up and then are prone to drop out of school. That’s why it’s worthwhile recognizing students with perfect attendance — their attendance records can remind other students of the importance of “just being there.”
Former city planning director Barry Hand reported that his daughter, Julia, graduated from Tracy High last year with a perfect attendance from first grade through high school. She attended kindergarten at Montessori School and then went to Villalovoz, South-West Park, Discovery and Kelly schools. She is now a sophomore biology major at Dominican University in San Rafael.
And finally, our “Oregon Okie” — or is it Okie Oregonian? — Willie McGuire up in Rogue River chimes in to recall that a 1958 Tracy High classmate, Keith Stewart, also had perfect attendance. Sadly, though, Willie added, Keith died April 3.
As plans unfold about the development of a landscaped plaza at the corner of Sixth Street and Central Avenue, one Tracyite feels its time to start looking at ways to celebrate Tracy’s railroad roots in the same area.
Plaza plans call for a roundabout in Central Avenue just south of Sixth Street, centered by what should be a striking statue of a railroad worker with outstretched lantern and a farmer holding a shock of wheat — two symbols of Tracy’s early days.
That’s fine, said David Jackson, but there needs to be a greater railroad presence in what at one time was, beginning in 1878, the Southern Pacific yard.
Jackson, who has experience in historical issues as executive director of the Bay Area Radio Museum and Hall of Fame in Berkeley, suggests the formation of a local railroad history group that could lead someday to the establishment of a “Railtown Tracy” in what is now known informally as the Bow Tie area.
I can readily expect that Larry Gamino, a third-generation “rail,” would be the first to sign up, followed closely behind by Nick Buthmann, a descendant of Jim Eagan, a Central Pacific worker who was Tracy’s first resident in 1878.
Developing a full-scale Railtown Tracy wouldn’t be an easy task, I told David, but I did say that Old 1293, the venerable steam engine sitting in Dr. Powers Park, should be taken back to the old SP yard at the very least. While that wouldn’t be cheap, it could be accomplished — and would add a genuine railroad artifact to that place where the railroad founded our town 133 years ago.
And who knows what could follow?
Tracy does it right
And a final thought. I’ve attended most Memorial Day services since the late 1950s, and the attendance and program of Monday’s observance were among the best yet.
Tracy knows how to celebrate Memorial Day, displaying patriotism with appropriate dignity the occasion deserves. The participation of the Tracy Community Band, which has a full repertoire of patriotic numbers, adds so much. And no one plays taps better than Greg Wright.
• Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 830-4234 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.