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Jun 26, 2012 6:06 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Hampton Bays Graduate Never Missed A Day Of School

Jun 27, 2012 11:42 AM

Just before graduating from Hampton Bays High School on Saturday, Alyssa Sardone counted the number of times—2,366, to be exact—that she took her seat in class before the bell rang to mark the start of the school day.

In fact, she never missed a single day of class during her 13 years at Hampton Bays schools.

It wasn’t easy. Alyssa said she forced herself to stay behind while her friends went to the beach on senior skip day this spring, choosing instead to meet up with them after classes. And when her younger sister, Amanda, was having a medical procedure related to chemotherapy a few years ago, Alyssa did not accompany her to the doctor with other members of her family.

Amanda was diagnosed with leukemia when she was just 3 years old and died in April at the age of 9. Though she wanted to be with her younger sibling all the time as she battled the disease that ultimately claimed her life, Alyssa said she made a point of not taking for granted an opportunity that her sister always wished she had.

“All she ever wanted to do was go to school,” Alyssa said of Amanda, who was rarely able to attend school herself because she was so sick.

Alyssa said she also challenged herself to set a good example for her other younger sister, Sabrina, who is now 8.

Even before Amanda’s diagnosis, Alyssa was involved with the American Cancer Society. At age 11, she opened a lemonade stand at various restaurants in Hampton Bays and donated all the revenue to Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. Based out of Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, the foundation was created in 2000 by Alex Scott after she was diagnosed with cancer. Alyssa also participates in Relay For Life and has raised $11,000 in total toward leukemia research.

Though the 18-year-old admits that there were some days along the way when she was close to staying home, her parents, Grace Ryan and Mike Sardone, never forced her decision one way or the other. Alyssa recalled sitting in the examination room in her doctor’s office with an earache when she was younger and asking a question children do not often utter: “But, can I still go to school?”

The blond-haired graduate will attend the University of Buffalo this fall to study pharmaceutical sciences, where she said she will try to keep up her habit of never missing class. Noting that it will take her seven years to get her degree, Alyssa said she plans to take college one day at a time.

Alyssa said she has always wanted to enter the medical field and that she was inspired by a local pharmacist at the Hampton Liggett Drug Store in Hampton Bays who, she said, has a very close relationship with his patients. It is a quality, she said, that she has not always observed in doctors.

While she’ll miss the ocean when she leaves in the fall, Alyssa said she’s excited to ski and noted that her mother has already prepared her for the harsh Buffalo winters by buying her snowshoes. Alyssa said she hopes to continue her hobby of film photography there, too, as it was her favorite subject in high school and her hobby outside of school. In addition to holding a membership with the photography club at school, Alyssa also participated in the Southampton Town Youth Court, in which young offenders are tried, and sometimes sentenced, by their peers.

“I am thrilled and I think it’s a huge accomplishment,” said Ms. Ryan, a teacher in the William Floyd School District, of her daughter’s perfect attendance. “I can’t say that I’ve done that once for one year.”

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