Anthony Madison, a fourth-grader at Rognel Heights Elementary School, says he doesn't intend to miss another day of school -- and he means it.
Anthony and other students at Rognel Heights, located at 4300 Sidehill Road in West Baltimore, are all aiming for perfect attendance. If they achieve it, they will be rewarded with a trip to the General Motors Corp. plant on Broening Highway in June.
Under a partnership agreement between GM and the school, third-, fourth- and fifth-graders are eligible for trips to the plant if they have perfect attendance and display good discipline and study habits.
"It's something that everyone here wants to do," said Anthony, 11. "Last year, I didn't miss any days and we got to watch them spray-paint cars. I'd like to try something like that this year. I don't care if it's below zero, I'm coming to school."
Last year, Anthony was one of 78 Rognel Heights students rewarded with a tour of the Broening Highway plant.
Yesterday, GM officials visited the school and talked to students about career opportunities. The officials also said the corporation plans to donate several computers to the school.
Tom Schneck, comptroller at Broening Highway, said his company adopted the school last year in hopes of keeping youngsters interested in school.
"If all of the elementary schools in the city were adopted by some business, it would have a significant impact on the students and their careers," he said.
"Attendance is important whether they are at work or at school. You can't make a van if you don't have the people. With this, the idea is to light that light bulb. A few kids might get interested and go finish college."
GM took interest in Rognel Heights after receiving letters from Principal Sarah Horsey and from residents of the Edmondson Village area.
"We were rejected at first, but we went through the plant manager to get in," Ms. Horsey said.
Since the program began last year, the school's overall attendance has increased to 94 percent, Ms. Horsey said.
Nikia Boston, 11, a fifth-grader at Rognel Heights, said she toured the plant last year and liked the computers she saw there. But she said she was unsure if she wanted to work in the automotive field. "I want a job where I can stick with it and not get laid off," she said.