The D.C. public school system has been watching Kimberly Moses ever since she graduated from Whittier Elementary School in Northwest. She had a perfect attendance record then. She still had a perfect record when she graduated from Paul Junior High School.

And through every school day at Coolidge High -- no matter how bad the weather, and no matter what her mood or the condition of her homework -- Moses's record stayed perfect.

When the 18-year-old graduated earlier this month from the high school in Takoma, she had achieved 13 years of perfect school attendance.

In a school system where truancy and absenteeism are rampant, where about 40 percent of all high school students drop out, Moses defied the odds and arrived on time for school every day.

For doing so, she collected an award from the public schools and a $500 check from the McDonald's restaurant corporation.

Moses had received recognition for her attendance achievements for the past seven years at school awards ceremonies.

"This is something that I wanted to do," Moses said. "But a lot of it was inspired by the speeches at the {earlier} awards ceremonies. The school board has been very kind to me. They asked me to be a role model and I didn't want to let them down."

That was not the only inspiration for her getting up and out of the house on cold winter mornings.

"I'm an only child and I feel it's boring being home alone. I'd rather be at school with my friends," said Moses, who had a whirlwind high school career participating in volleyball, varsity tennis, student government and the National Honor Society.

During her junior year in high school, Moses spent six months as a congressional page, working for District Del. Walter E. Fauntroy's office. Never escaping the alarm clock, Moses was required to attend school on Capitol Hill from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., before Congress's morning sessions. Again, she was never late or absent.

Moses is an avid reader but said she doesn't "always keep up with homework." She graduated in the top 10 percent of her class and has been accepted by St. Augustine College in Raleigh, N.C., where she will study office administration and possibly computer science.

Her friends at school and at St. Stephen's Baptist Church, where she sings in the Youth Choir and is secretary of the Sunday School, have been supportive of her attendance record ever since she was in grade school, Moses said.

"They are proud of me. But when kids who don't know me well hear about my record, they insist, 'Oh no, that isn't true. You were absent one day last November,' or 'You were late last week.' They just can't believe it."

Etheleen Mason, her homeroom teacher at Coolidge for three years, believes it and is not surprised.

"Kimberly appears to be a happy person who feels good about herself," said Mason, who taught Moses word processing. "It takes a happy attitude to be motivated. She also has strong support from her home."

Liz Moses, however, gives her daughter full credit, but notes it "couldn't have been done without her good health."

"Kimberly is the kind of child who never gave in to the little aches and pains," she said.

"We owe a lot to Emma Parker," a friend of the family, who on several occasions was able to pick up Kimberly at school when the nurse called and said that Kimberly wasn't feeling well, Liz Moses said. Parker would work on Kimberly with hot soup and aspirin, or take her to the doctor if necessary, and then get her back for afternoon class so she wouldn't miss any time.

Also, "Kimberly has had a lot of support from her grandfather and uncles and aunts, who were pushing for her all the way," said Liz Moses. "She's been an inspiration to us all. Her father {Frank} and I didn't have perfect attendance in our schooling, but in our jobs we both do, or at least we try."

Is Kimberly Moses ever late for anything?

"Library books," she said, laughing. "I'm terrible at returning them on time. They're always overdue."