SAN ANTONIO — There are two things about Jacob Morales you can place money on: he's going to show up, and he's going to show up on time.
"Time is valuable—extremely valuable," Jacob said.
The O'Connor High School senior is accustomed to jokes about his streak for attendance and punctuality. But he laughs at the humor because the 18-year-old captured the accomplishment.
"It was honestly just motivation from my mom, my dad, my brother," he said.
Jacob's mother, Ana, acknowledges her role in getting her eldest son interested in being where he needs to be.
"To show up, give it 100%," Morales said.
The streak started in preschool and kept rolling through high graduation from O'Connor.
"It's just like if you say you're going to do something, you do it," she said.
He bought into the concept, hook, line and sinker. Along the way, Jacob became attached to orchestra, basketball, track, football, bowling and academics.
"It's not just friends, it's not just teachers. It's just the whole atmosphere of being in school that just kind of kept me engaged and kept me going," he said.
Morales' inspiration for her son came from her shortcoming. She transferred schools in high school and figured rather quickly that she didn't have to show up a lot to get good grades. The mindset went unchallenged at school until her graduation, when she noticed the valedictorian receiving accolades for perfect attendance.
"You know what, when I have my kids, I want them to have that," Morales recalled thinking. "I want them to have perfect attendance."
Easier said than done.
Jacob had to push through days when he was physically tired, emotionally drained and even sick. He said giving up would mean all the days he put in were in vain.
"There were times where I would kind of test him and say, 'Hey, you want to stay home today?'" Morales said. "'Nope, I'm going to school.'"
Jacob believes he was the only senior at school on senior skip day. He said completing the goal was more important than participating in the high school tradition with classmates and friends.
"Our time is very limited on this planet, and making the most of it will benefit those around me," he said. "It's not necessarily for me. It's for all those around me."
He may be right. His little brother, Matthew, an O'Connor freshman, is trying to achieve the same thing.
"Peoples' legacies live on because they touch the people around them," Jacob said.
According to Morales, she cheered so loudly at Jacob's graduation that the announcement of his perfect attendance got lost in her noise. Luckily, a cell phone recording allowed her to reflect and weep.
"I was like, 'They said it,'" she said. "I got to hear it. I was like, 'We did it.'"
Jacob graduated with honors and will attend UTSA, where he is a distinguished presidential scholar. The freshman Roadrunner also plans to keep his punctuality and attendance records alive.
"That's got to continue to college for sure," he said.
His mother said he's catching up on a lot of rest before doing so.
According to Northside Independent School District, Jacob is one of three students they can verify who graduated from the district this year with perfect attendance. The other two: Desiree Duarte Moczygemba from Taft High School and Madeline Ann Salazar from Stevens High School.