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On Monday, Dan Mini Elementary School Principal Heather Topacio arrived at school with new purple colored hair.

During the month of March, Dan Mini Elementary competed with other area schools to see who would have the best attendance for the month of March, in the end, Dan Mani Elementary had the highest attendance rate.

The idea of a March Madness contest came from Principal Megan De La Mater of Patterson Elementary.

Topacio explained she burst out saying “maybe I will dye my hair purple” in the spurt of the moment and says once she said that, she knew she had to follow through.

“It stuck and they held me to it so I had to do it,” explained Topacio, who says doesn’t know yet how long she will keep the color but joked she might have to do another contest to make students earn a new color.

Topacio says she got her students to participate by engaging them and making it a contest throughout the school by each week. The winning class with the highest attendance got a popsicle. They also used parent communication which she said was key.

“We did see a huge improvement, we saw about 10-12 less absences per day than we might typically see,” explained Topacio. “Parents are key to getting their kids to school each day and they set the standard. Parents decide everyday if their child goes to school like parents decide if they go to work. It’s a lot on the parents.”

Topacio says although they do not want kids at school who are sick and contagious, but ultimately they need kids to come to school everyday so they can learn.

“Even though we won, I am not satisfied with the level of attendance. I want them to be at 95-96% on average. We are at 93% on average. While I am happy we won, we still have a long way to go,” explained Topacio.

She further added increasing the attendance levels is important to her and she hopes to figure out how to get the average rate above 96% rate.

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