Basha High grad never missed a day of school - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Basha High grad never missed a day of school

June 13th, 2019 development
Basha High grad never missed a day of school

By COLLEEN SPARKS, Managing Editor

A Basha High School graduate with excellent grades is gearing up for Arizona State University, where he will use a scholarship to study robotics engineering after celebrating an unusual accomplishment 13 years in the making.

Matthew Tucker, 18, of Chandler, not only graduated with a grade-point average of 4.675 last month, but also registered perfect attendance from kindergarten through the last day of his senior year of high school.

He also worked 30 hours a week at Panera Bread his senior year and earned the AP + PLTW (Project Lead The Way) Achievement for his scores in advanced courses.

Matthew took all the engineering classes available at Basha High.

He said his father, Mark Tucker, emphasized to him at a young age the importance of attending every class every day of school.

As an incentive, Mark promised Matthew he would buy him a new car when he graduated high school if he had not missed any class time in K-12 grades. Matthew is thrilled to be the proud owner of a new 2019 Toyota Tacoma — his first vehicle ever.

“It feels nice,” Matthew said. “I’m very excited and happy to have it finished.”

The teen will start at ASU’s Barrett, the Honors College in the fall, and he has earned the New American University Scholarship, President’s Award, which will provide $10,000 a year over four years.

For now, he is enjoying his new wheels.

“We bought it during spring break,” Matthew said. “It sat in the garage for the fourth quarter taunting me. I’ve already put several hundred miles on it, going places with my friends and stuff. I can go camping. I like doing outdoorsy things.”

He took four AP classes his senior year, so his academic day would end at 11:44 a.m. and then head to Panera Bread at 3991 S. Arizona Ave.

Matthew would work five to eight hours a day taking customers’ orders and working in the dining room.

“It doesn’t even feel like work because I love all my employees,” Matthew said. “I love the managers. It’s not super stressful.”

He participated in the Engineering and Math clubs and Relay for Life Club at Basha.

He also took part in robotics competitions on teams in fifth and sixth grades and studied robotics in eighth grade at Santan Junior High School. Outside of school, he played soccer and did blacksmithing.

Matthew got into blacksmithing his sophomore year and has made knives, hooks, necklaces and crosses with the help of blacksmithing supplies that he bought at yard sales.

While there were hectic times trying to get his homework done Matthew said he likes going to work and “for the most part it wasn’t really much of an issue.”

He said he stays healthy most of the time so he was not tempted to miss school.

Matthew did get a cold once over Thanksgiving break and pneumonia over winter break on another occasion. He broke his arm one time when he fell while climbing the bleachers during school but went to the school nurse and finished all his classes for the day.

“It didn’t really hurt that bad,” Matthew said. “It was near the end of the day. I went to the doctor immediately after school. I just have a really good immune system.”

His parents are proud.

“I always wanted to get…perfect attendance,” his father said said. “We set this goal and I told him I wanted it to be his goal. I basically drilled that into him. I thought it was very, very important to be in school. It wasn’t always easy. I told him that we don’t believe in getting sick.”

Mark, a retired facilities management director for Pinal County, said his wife, Matthew’s mother Marcia Tucker, was valedictorian of her high school class. Marcia helped Matthew with homework while Mark stressed the importance of having a good work ethic.

Mark said he did not go to college and he is thrilled Matthew got a scholarship.

“I think that’s just wonderful,” Mark said. “We always had a goal to have Matt go to school. Trying to have a goal and insight is kind of the secret to success in my book, when you know where you’re going and you know what the road is to get there.”

Marcia, who is a chemical engineer, quality manager at Hexcel Corporation in Casa Grande, is also happy her son met his goal of achieving perfect attendance. She has a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering at The University of Arizona.

“It’s a pretty amazing accomplishment,” Marcia said. “It’s something that his dad talked to him about when he was really little.

“We made sure not to interrupt his schooling with doctors’ appointments or vacations or things like that. It was kind of an exciting goal to put out there early on. It wasn’t easy. There were probably a lot of days that he wasn’t feeling up to going in. He managed to work through it. It’s a pretty significant accomplishment.”

Marcia said she and Mark talked to Matthew about how he could save money on college tuition if he earned good grades in high school.

“One of the things that we have talked to him about is furthering his education, really to maximize the benefit he had to him through high schools,” she said. “If you put the effort in now it will pay off financially and with a career.”

Matthew has some advice for other students in grades K-12.

“Don’t get sick and plan doctors’ appointments ahead of time,” Matthew said.