ST. LOUIS — Five bell tones ring through the halls at Pattonville High School at 7:23 a.m. sharp, signaling the beginning of the first class of the day.

In PE, seniors are scattered across the floor finishing up final exams with graduation less than a week away.

Among them? Miguel Perez.

“I usually wake up at 6:50 [a.m.] and drive here for first [class],” Perez explained. “I feel like it’s been normal. I just come to school.”

For the last year, however, Perez’s life has been anything but normal.

Beginning class at 7:23 a.m., Perez attends his entire first hour and a portion of his second hour before leaving for the CITY training grounds around 8:50 a.m. From there, he typically grabs breakfast, prepares for training and takes the pitch around 10:45 a.m.

Miguel’s morning routine

Miguel’s parents made sure he was always where he needed to be.

“Before this all started, they wanted me to go online because they didn’t think this would work” Perez said. “I told them if I just go for two classes then that’s all i needed… They were worried but, in the end, it all worked out.”

The balance was manageable, but Miguel’s prowess in the hallway certainly changed from his first two years in high school.

“I think everyone does look at him like he’s a [celebrity],” Jayson Drayton said. “I think it’s still the same old Miguel.”

Drayton and Perez met around the third grade on the soccer field.

“I remember we were tussling,” Drayton said, reflecting on his very first game against his friend. “That was our very first interaction and we’ve just been friends since.”

Once in high school, Drayton and Perez played soccer at Pattonville High School under Coach Marcus Christian. Perez shined as a freshman.

“You know, 14-year-olds playing on a field with 18-year-olds. They look different,” Christian explained. “But at 14 [Perez] held his own out there and was impressed. [He was] a player that couldn’t come off the field.”

The talent was noticeable from the start, but the result is still difficult to believe.

“To not be surprised that a high schooler makes it to the MLS? I’m surprised by that,” Christian said. “I’m not surprised that of my players, it’s him.”

Now the youngest consistent fixture on the St. Louis CITY SC roster at just 18-years old, Miguel still has a hard time being kept off the field, starting in six of his team’s first 13 games with appearances in all but two games this season. An impressive showing from a kid juggling high school class and a professional soccer career.

“They all help me a lot,” Perez said of his CITY teammates. “It’s fun here [at school] and all work when I get down [to training].”

Soon, Perez will be able to focus all of his attention on his career with Pattonville’s graduation set for Thursday, May 25.

On May 26, the real work begins for young Miguel Perez.

“I think there will be no excuses after graduation.”