Chalkboard in the lobby at Ballou High School in Washington in 2016. (Bonnie Jo Mount/Washington Post)

The Dec. 2 editorial "Hold the applause" criticized Ballou High School for graduating many students "despite failing grades and unacceptable absences." It's not the school's fault. Why are so many students absent during the school year? I was surprised to learn that a student can miss up to 30 days in a school year before failing.

As a person who graduated from a poor school in rural Mississippi, I know that even though a school may not be perfect, it takes you actually showing up to succeed. I support Ballou's efforts in dealing with an issue that's larger than the school's efforts to help these young men and women succeed.

The reasons for the absences probably vary considerably, whether it be illness, problems with family or simply not caring. Whatever the reasons are, they deserve further examination beyond Ballou to determine if they are representative of a larger issue. The school, students, parents and the city each have a responsibility to solve the problem.

Russell Gordon, Silver Spring