2007-06-21 / News

Island's own 'Iron Man' graduates tonight

By Donna K. Drago

Carl DeVellis Carl DeVellis While he doesn't post the numbers of Cal Ripken Jr.- Major League Baseball's "Iron Man," who is famous for playing in 2,632 straight games, over 16 seasons with the Baltimore Orioles, Carl DeVellis has quite a streak going in his own right.

DeVellis, who will graduate from Lawn Avenue School tonight, has not missed a day of school in seven years! That's 1,260 days of reading, writing and 'rithmetic- every single day from the second grade to now. Moreover, in his entire academic career, he has only missed six days for a total of 1,614 days sitting at his desk at the Jamestown schools.

"It's a big deal," said Jamestown Principal Kathy Almanzor about DeVellis' accomplishment. She said that there are a "handful," of kids each year who have perfect attendance for a single year, but "it's pretty rare," to see perfect attendance year after year.

DeVellis, 14, is a man of few words and doesn't think that such a fuss should be made of his accomplishment.

"He thinks I'm making too big a deal of this," his mother Cathy DeVellis says.

But, Carl says, having perfect attendance for so many years in a row is "pretty unusual." Especially in his own household, where brother Gage DeVellis, 12, "won't go to school if he has a hangnail," said his mother Cathy.

Cathy says Carl first learned about perfect attendance in first grade, when one of his classmates was awarded a certificate at the end of the year. "I guess I wanted the certificate," Carl says about how his streak got underway.

His mother says it goes deeper than that, offering up that Carl went as far as to declare a goal of perfect attendance for himself at that point in his life. Rolling his eyes, Carl, being a 14-year-old, is reluctant to admit to anything as seemingly geeky as that.

Doesn't he ever get sick?

Carl says he rarely gets sick and when he does . . . he shrugs, and his mother chimes in and says "he just toughs it out."

Now, one would think a kid who's got the attendance record at the Jamestown school would be the first one up in the morning and raring to go.

Not so, says Carl.

"I hate to get out of bed," he says with some passion. He sets his alarm clock "extra loud," he says and noted that it makes an obnoxious buzzing sound. But, Carl says, "I still go back to sleep," adding "until my mother wakes me up."

Cathy said that once he is up, Carl is out the door and walking to the bus stop as fast as he can get there, even though she drives Gage to school every morning.

"He doesn't want his brother to make him late, which he will," Cathy says.

Besides school, Carl says he enjoys playing baseball with the Jamestown Babe Ruth team, now in second place in their league. He plays second base and outfield, he says, and admits he likes to play ball a lot more than he likes to go to school.

Does he think Cal Ripken is a good role model for him? "Yeah," Carl said, "he never missed anything."

His other role model, he said, is his father Al DeVellis. "He's a mason," Carl said, adding that he works hard and goes to work every day. One more thing father and son have in common, Carl says, is that both of them love to sleep late on the weekends. "I get up about 10," Carl says, noting his dad "stays in bed even later than me, sometimes."

So will the streak continue in high school?

"No," affirms Carl, who said he is already planning a day when he just sleeps. "I'll miss a day in grade 9," he says, adding "I'll spend it sleeping and nobody will pester me." "I deserve it," he adds. Carl says he hasn't figured out how he is going to get his day started when high school begins at 7:25 a.m. - about the same time that he wakes up these days. "I'm not looking forward to it," Carl laments.

Carl recently received a signed certificate from Governor Donald Carcieri, who congratulated him on his many years of perfect attendance.

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