This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Kevin Davis Jr. doesn’t like to brag.
Bragging would involve talking. And Davis doesn’t like to talk.
You can ask the graduating high school senior why he’s never missed a day of school, but don’t expect a sonnet.
“I know if I miss something, I’m always going to be behind,” Davis says in a voice that barely breaks a whisper. “And I don’t ever want to be behind. I always want to be ahead.”
Call it the Zen of Kevin.
Each school day, he wakes up around 6:30 a.m., washes his face, prays, flips on the news, gets dressed, makes sure he “smells good,” tells his parents he loves them, and then walks his little sister out the door.
The broken arm he suffered in 6th grade kept him in the hospital until 3 a.m., but didn’t keep him from attending school the next morning. In 11th grade, he tore a ligament in his right knee, but hobbled into school with the help of a cane.
And when he gets sick?
“I wear a mask,” he explains.
In a more just world, says his principal, Margaux Munnelly, something would be waiting for Davis at the end of his K-12 journey — maybe a scholarship or a grant or something from the adult world to acknowledge that Davis has done everything asked of him for the last 13 years.