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Manny Machado visits Paradise Hills to award tickets for attendance challenge

Posted at 3:12 PM, May 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-14 18:12:58-04

SAN DIEGO (CNS) — San Diego Padres third baseman Manny Machado made a surprise appearance at Paradise Hills Elementary School Monday to congratulate students for winning an attendance challenge, part of a partnership between the Padres and San Diego Unified School District.

Paradise Hills won the "Be Like a Pro And Always Go" challenge by reducing its percentage of chronically absent students -- those missing at least 10% of school days -- by 7%.

"Our entire school community has been working hard to improve attendance. We know that strong attendance is one of the keys to success both now and in the future,'' Paradise Hills Principal Steve Elizondo said in a statement. "Our families are stepping up and getting their kids to school on time, and our staff builds positive relationships with students. We all try to make sure that kids feel loved, valued and a sense of belonging so that they want to come to school each day.''

The winning school's students, family members and staff each received tickets to a Padres game and each student at Paradise Hills received a Manny Machado bobblehead and attendance certificates signed by Machado.

"No matter what you want to be in life, every day you're in school will help you get closer to your dreams,'' said Machado. "I'm so proud of all the students in San Diego Unified for the great job they did with this challenge. You're all pros in my book.''

Additionally, students, family and staff at second place Fletcher Elementary School also received tickets to a game. Another 63 schools serving Universal Transitional Kindergarten through fifth grade improved attendance, and students from each of those schools will have the opportunity to enter a drawing for tickets to a Padres game, according to the district.

SDUSD began the campaign with Machado in response to post-COVID attendance rates, which have plummeted, while students chronically absent have skyrocketed, from 11% of students to more than 25%.

"When our students are in school every day, we know they can thrive. Even for our 4- and 5-year-old students, it is important to attend school regularly,'' Superintendent Lamont Jackson said. ``San Diego Unified is grateful to the Padres for their partnership in promoting strong school attendance, and for our shared commitment to fostering conditions in San Diego that give every student a sense of belonging.''

In addition to students generally performing worse in school as attendance declines, schools receive a significant portion of their funding depending on how many students attend school. More chronic absenteeism means less funding for next year.

Health and mental health needs, housing and food insecurities, unmet transportation needs and inflation can all contribute to chronic absenteeism, a SDUSD statement reads.