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Perfect Timing

George Washington High School senior Josh Goldberg hasn’t missed a day of school in 13 years.

Kevin Cook/for the Times

Josh Goldberg started a pattern when he was in kindergarten at the Anne Frank Elementary School.

The youngster attended class every day and showed up on time.

“I always looked forward to going to school every day,” he said.

Josh attended Anne Frank through fifth grade, spent the next three years at the Baldi Middle School, was enrolled at Central High School for almost three years and has been at George Washington for the last year-plus.

In all that time, he has never missed a day of school.

“No latenesses either, even in inclement weather,” said his mom Gail.

When Josh graduated from Washington on Wednesday, he completed 13 years of schooling without staying home even one day.

“When I tell people I have perfect attendance, they get amazed,” he said. “They say, ‘Wow. Show me some proof or evidence.’”

The 18-year-old started his school days in the pre-kindergarten class at Shaare Shamayim synagogue. “I don’t think they took attendance,” he joked.

A resident of Susan Road in Bustleton, he has generally stayed healthy, other than a bout with the chicken pox when he was 2.

“I never had a major illness,” he said. “The common cold, I battled through it.”

On Feb. 6, 2006, as a seventh-grader, he attended school for a couple of hours before heading to his grandfather’s funeral service.

“I had to make the funeral later,” his mom said.


Josh is a big baseball fan — he’s a Phillies season ticket-holder and has traveled to more than a dozen Major League Baseball stadiums — but was presented with a dilemma on Oct. 31, 2008, in his sophomore year at Central.

No, he didn’t have to pick out a last-second Halloween costume. He wanted to attend the parade celebrating the Phillies’ World Series victory two nights earlier.

“I went to school in my Phillies gear. My adviser didn’t even know the Phillies won the World Series. I was the only one in my class, and there were only ten or twelve kids and very few teachers in the whole school. I left school early,” said Josh, who hopped on the Broad Street Subway to join the parade in Center City.

Oversleeping has never been a problem for Josh, though it’s not unusual for him to stay awake until 1 a.m. or so. He wakes up at 6:45 a.m., in plenty of time to make it to Washington. Not everybody is as prompt.

“I’m at school by 7:20, and it starts at 7:30, but the hallways are empty,” he said.

Arriving on time at Central, at 17th Street and Olney Avenue, was a bit more challenging, especially when there was heavy traffic and precipitation on the ground.

“I’d tell my mom to drive faster,” he said.

Josh took his last exam on June 2. He was one of the few seniors in school the next day, which was the date of the senior prom.

The rest of the schedule included the annual “move-up day,” when seniors walk out of the auditorium for the final time and are replaced in their seats by the juniors.

Josh and the rest of the seniors received their yearbooks and had a picnic at the Chickie’s & Pete’s on Roosevelt Boulevard, followed by a graduation practice on the day before Wednesday’s ceremony, which was held at Mickey Young Memorial Stadium and featured guest speaker Steve Addazio, the new football coach at Temple University.


Josh’s parents set a good example for him and his two brothers when it comes to education. His mom Gail teaches at Grover Washington Elementary School in Olney and has rarely missed class as a student or teacher. His dad Louis is an accountant/controller/chief financial officer for a parking-lot company who rarely skips a day of work.

Aaron Goldberg, a 16-year-old sophomore at Washington, hasn’t missed much school time since appendicitis sidelined him for a week in sixth grade.

Joel Goldberg, a 14-year-old eighth-grader at Baldi who will attend Washington in September, has missed only a couple of days over the years.

“It runs in the family,” Josh said of the commitment to education.

For Josh, math has been his favorite subject in school. He also participated in science fairs since the fourth grade. He had a 97 classroom average in his first three years of high school and took all advanced-placement classes as a senior.

The teenager was the photographer for the yearbook.

Outside of school, he has plenty of interests. He became an Eagle Scout at age 14 and remains in a leadership position at the Shaare Shamayim-based Troop 18.

On Sunday, he graduated from the Gratz College Hebrew School.

In August, he and Joel will travel to the Philmont Scout Ranch to take part in a grueling 70-mile hiking trip “in the middle of nowhere” in New Mexico with fellow Troop 18 members.

A few days after arriving home, Josh will depart for Syracuse University, where he will study environmental engineering. He’ll eventually enroll in law school. Impacted by last year’s massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, he’d like to work for the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

To help pay for his education, he has performed odd jobs at his father’s company and has shoveled snow and cut lawns for several years.

Syracuse has a reputation as being a town that experiences brutal winter weather, and Gail Goldberg jokes that her son might need to bring a snow blower to clear a path to get to class on time.

College professors might not have much interest in taking attendance, but Josh will be there for the start of every class.

“Why stop?” ••

Reporter Tom Waring can be reached at 215–354–3034 or twaring@bsmphilly.com

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