Barrett Aulidge is not your typical high school senior. In fact, the soft-spoken, hard-working son of Brent and Michelle Aulidge accomplished a rare feat in not missing a single day of high school.
“In fact, he only missed 14 days of school from first grade on through the last day, and he’s never been tempted to miss,” said his mother, Michelle Aulidge, who said she never missed a day of school from kindergarten through her senior year when attendance was credited for each day a student was present by 11:30 a.m.
Barrett’s high school streak is approximately 720 consecutive school days.
“I like my friends, and my teachers, and my favorite subject is welding,” Barrett said. “I’m going to find a job like a welding job or fabricator job, something like that. This year, homecoming was fun in part because my welding teacher, Vance Hardin, asked me to use my (demolition) derby car up there. He lets me do all kinds of projects.”
According to school officials, only one other student in the 2019 graduating class achieved perfect attendance — Jada Rolston, a standout soccer player for the Red Hawks.
His parents said they were a little disappointed that the attendance achievement was not recognized at the graduation ceremony.
“They gave me a little pin to put on your tassel at graduation,” Barrett said.
Michelle said that doctor appointments and other activities outside of school have always been scheduled so that they wouldn’t affect Barrett’s attendance.
“When my dad passed away, we even scheduled the funeral on a Saturday so we wouldn’t have to take Barrett out,” she said. “That is important to us, and it was important to him that he continued on. I didn’t have to push him to go to school because he wanted to go. I know that he will carry on that sense of commitment when he gets a job.”
Michelle pointed out that Barrett had six years total of perfect attendance, with one year in elementary school and one year in middle school.
“He had five consecutive years of perfect attendance from eighth grade through his senior year,” she said, adding that Barrett did receive recognition at the senior class awards ceremony.
After receiving his diploma on May 16, the Creek Wood High School graduate headed straight back to the classroom to help out Hardin, his favorite CTE teacher who has expanded Barrett’s passion for welding.
“This young man is an outstanding individual,” Hardin said. “You will not hear a lot from him, but you will see production from him. He loves to learn new things and perfect the things he knows using both a hands-on approach that applies information he’s learned. As a student in class, or out in the shop, if I needed something to get done, I would call Aulidge. He was always willing to take on a new task and problem solve for the solution.”
Hardin saw a routine for Hardin that he knows will help him be a valuable asset in the work force.
“One thing that I enjoyed most about him is that before he started working, he would come to me and talk it out to make sure that I did not see any issues with his solution to a problem or process for approach, and he wanted to make sure that it is what I would like,” Hardin said.
One of the activities Barrett has enjoyed most is the Demolition Derby that takes place at the Dickson County Fair.
“I always wanted to do it,” he said, noting that his dad used to participate in the demolition derby at the fair.
Brent said that in the derby last Labor Day weekend, his son was among three of the top five who were Creek Wood welding students.
“I came in fifth place,” Barrett said, with a chuckle.
Barrett admitted that he really likes to do things that are hands-on.
“I really like putting stuff together and tearing stuff apart,” he said.
The best influence and encouragement have come from Hardin.
“He always tells us to do our best, and to give it all you’ve got,” Barrett said. “We built a 50-foot long bridge for the auditorium for a play called ‘High School Musical’ about a month ago. The bridge was like seven feet in the air, and it weighed between seven or eight thousand pounds.”
“High School Musical” is a Disney show that features a number of songs such as “Start of Something New” and “We're all in this Together.”
The titles seem to echo Barrett’s work ethic that has been reinforced and encouraged by his parents and Hardin.
“I’m extremely proud of him,” Michelle said. “He’s been blessed with good health, and I haven’t had to push him. He has always wanted to go to school. I know that he will carry on that sense of commitment when he gets a job.”